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Sunday Samples 251

November 20, 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve listened to much from They Might Be Giants. I tend to think they went downhill in the late 1990s, but it’s probably just that they went into new areas that weren’t what drew me to them in the first place. That said, I did like some of their mid-90s stuff as they got more produced but kept some of their bizarre take on the alterna-rock style.

While I think some of their best individual tracks are on earlier albums, my vote for the best album start-to-finish is 1996’s Factory Showroom. There’s a whole masters’ thesis to be written on its exploration of the themes of individual versus group identity, little of which I believe the Johns (Flansburgh and Linnell) intended. And one of their best tracks from the album is “Spiraling Shape”.

Down, down, down you go
No way to stop
As you fall, hear me call
“No, no, no”
Listen to this warning and
Consider these
Simple words of advice:
Stop, stop, stop

Fogging the view, cupping face to the window
In darkness you make out a spiraling shape
Putting all reason aside you exchange
What you got for a thing that’s hypnotic and strange
The spiraling shape will make you go insane
(Everyone wants to see that groovy thing)
But everyone wants to see that groovy thing
(Everyone wants to see that thing)

And nobody knows what it’s really like
But everyone says it’s great
And they heard it from the spiral in their eyes

This could lead to excellence
Or serious injury
Only one way to know:
Go, go, go
Go ahead, wreck your life
That might be good
Who can say what’s wrong or right?
Nobody can

Put out your hands and you fall through the window
And clawing at nothing you drop through the void
Your terrified screams are inaudible, drowned
In the spiral ahead and consumed in the shape
The spiraling shape will make you go insane
(Everyone wants to see that groovy thing)
But everyone wants to see that groovy thing
(Everyone wants to see that thing)

And now that you’ve tried it, you’re back to report
That the spiraling shape was a fraud and a fake
You didn’t enjoy it, you never believed it
There won’t be a refund, you’ll never go back
The spiraling shape will make you go insane
(Everyone wants to see that groovy thing)
But everyone wants to see that groovy thing
(Everyone wants to see that thing)

And nobody knows what it’s really like
But everyone says it’s great
And they heard it from the spiral in their eyes
(Spiral in their eyes)

Fogging the view, cupping face to the window
In darkness you make out a spiraling shape
Putting all reason aside you exchange
What you got for a thing that’s hypnotic and strange
The spiraling shape will make you go insane
(Everyone wants to see that groovy thing)
But everyone wants to see that groovy thing
(Everyone wants to see that thing)

Don’t spend the rest of your life wondering
(Everyone wants to see that thing)
Don’t spend the rest of your life wondering
(Everyone wants to see that groovy thing)
Don’t spend the rest of your life wondering
(Everyone wants to see that thing)

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