Friday, August 1, 2008

The Moon: Nightgown of the Sullen Moon

They Might Be Giants: Nightgown of the Sullen Moon


I was away getting sunfried in a field for last week's Sun theme; happily, in my absence, guestposter Emma of Curiously Tasty showed up to share what I would have to agree is the definitive Sun song, at least as far as alternative nerdrock is concerned.

But They Might Be Giants look upward at night, too. And though, as the surreal title suggests, this song is less about its nominal astronomical subject as it is about the way the moon figures in our dreaming visions and walkabouts, I think this rarity, released on their 1991 B-sides and Remix collection, is an especially definitive precursor to the ultimate success and sound of the two Johns and their decidedly weird sensibility.

In fact, the pouncing homo-rhythmic, practically homophonic Nightgown of the Sullen Moon contains the seeds of much of what would become the culturally vast reach of They Might Be Giants, from the thrash-paced theme to Malcom in the Middle to the more plodding robotic carols and faux gleesongs that frame the Disney Channel's Mickey's Playhouse, which my kids love to explore online when I am trying to blog. Like those others, it is a great and catchy piece, short and sweet, with deceptively simple lyrics that are both a little bit cryptic and somewhat surreal. Like those others, the music doesn't so much provide a platform for the nasal singing of TMBG's lead singer-accordianist as it creates a parallel theme, for the sake of tension and interplay, which makes intermittent silence a natural part of the surprisingly playful musical environment that results. And like so many other They Might Be Giant songs, the song will stick in your head for days, following you in and out of your dreams.

Bonus: Of course, They Might Be Giants produce equally catchy nerdrock when they're talking about the escapist dreams of mental patients. Here's Destination Moon, from 1994 release John Henry:

They Might Be Giants: Destination Moon


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