By: Kerry M
I can still vividly recall my first introduction to the two Johns. I was at most 16 and she was most definitely in college. We were in her car running an errand for our employer and this curious song began banging from her late model factory speakers. Suddenly, and slightly out of character (and I might add without a trace of irony), she began screaming the lyrics just as one might do to a classic Violent Femmes song.
D, world destruction
Over an overture
N, do I need
Apostrophe T, need this torture?
Only it wasn't the Violent Femmes, it was this band she called TMBG and the song was Don't Let's Start and well, I can't remember her name. To this day that song is by far my favorite TMBG track and never fails to remind me of those simple days of crushes that barely outlasted Side A.
Years later, I met the Johns while they toured in support of Apollo 18 and while we briefly chatted at the merch table, I tried to recount the aforementioned anecdote regarding the older girl and the mix tape and the loud off-key singing. Of course, it didn't come out very succinctly or even vaguely coherently, but they smiled, signed my poster and politely sent me on my merry way. Unpretentious to say the least.
Suddenly, it is 2006 and Venue Songs randomly lands on my doorstep bringing back memories of adolescent innocence and strange lyrical puzzles. 2006's Venue Songs is the result of the Johns’ attempt to creatively pass the time while driving between cities while touring the US. More specifically, the songs were written for the venue they were headed towards and were played that night. Kitsch, ambitious, and admittedly a bit silly, the true hallmarks of any TMBG project.
The DVD/CD combo is comprised of 35 minutes of clips from various venues, a travelogue, bonus studio tracks, and of course bonus videos, including one video featuring everyone's favorite Hotlantan, Homestar Runner. The CD also includes all 30 venue songs, for the curious or those that simply want to relive their experience of that last TMBG show in Charleston or Farmingdale.
The fact sheet that accompanied the DVD/CD package declares that They Might Be Giants have sold over 4 million records, including 2 albums of children's songs. An impressive feat for two quirky guys who for the past 20 years have made uncompromisingly quirky music for generations of even quirkier fans.
Ana Ng and I are getting old, indeed.
Here are some streaming (quicktime) videos for your viewing pleasure.