They Might Be Giants have released several albums of songs for kids, but they're not all that different than the songs they've been releasing for adults for the past 25 years. In fact some songs have appeared on releases for both audiences. "Why Does the Sun Shine? (The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas)" is one of those songs.
Tom Glazer & Dottie Evans: Why Does the Sun Shine? (The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas)
[out of print]
It's also one of those songs (see also "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" that sounds like it was written by the band, but wasn't. In fact, it was written by Hy Zaret and Lou Singer, and appeared on Tom Glazer & Dottie Evans' 1959 album "Space Songs".
They Might Be Giants: Why Does the Sun Shine? (The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas)
They Might Be Giants first released their version on an EP in 1994, before they started making records specifically for kids. The arrangement doesn't stray too far from the original, but it's so dang catchy, it's safe to say their version brought the song to a whole new audience.
Speaking of whole new audiences, after they started recording kids albums, it became a staple at their kid-oriented shows. It's become so popular, they've rerecorded it for their latest kids album, Here Comes Science.
They Might Be Giants: Why Does the Sun Shine? (The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas) [live]
For their regular shows, they've revved it up and reinterpreted it as a rocker. It works surprisingly well. The live version I've included here comes from their Severe Tire Damage live album.
Fun though it is, the song contains a funamental inaccuacy: The Sun, it turns out, is not a mass of incandescent gas. It's made of incandescent plasma. To rectify this error, Here Comes Science also includes the self-penned correction, "Why Does the Sun Really Shine? (The Sun is a Miasma of Incandescent Plasma)".