#10 – “The Life of Doug” (2001)

They Might Be Giants vs. McSweeney's

A.S.: So we finally reach not only our first McSweeney’s track, but also our first instrumental, and our first track under 30 seconds long.

L.K.: Well that certainly gives us a lot less fodder for discussion given the short length and lack of lyrics. I wish I knew which McSweeney’s piece this song was supposed to accompany so that we’d have a little more context…

A.S.: Yeah, every time I go to a Half Price Books I always look for this one among the little section of McSweeney’s quarterlies, but alas I’ve yet to find it.  They usually have a lot of them though; those things are very elaborately packaged!

L.K.: They pop up on Ebay occasionally, but yeah, I have yet to acquire a hard copy of this issue/quarterly/whatever it’s called. So much of the accompanying CD is just short, strange little tracks with either no lyrics or very few lyrics, and I want to know what story accompanies something like this—or picture, or whatever it is. Guessing it’s about a guy named Doug.

A.S.: It’s a neat little instrumental though; I wish it were longer.

“The Life of Doug” on TMBW.

L.K.: Oh yeah, it’s enjoyable but short. But the goal of the CD was effectively to act as accompaniment to other pieces, so maybe that’s why so many of them were such tiny little things. They’re there to complement the main focus of McSweeney’s, which is the published stuff.

A.S.: True, but if songs like “Robert Lowell” and “Bangs” and “Truth In Your Words” and whatever else were based on the published material, who’s to say that “The Life of Doug” or any other little clips couldn’t have also become more fleshed out.

L.K.: Well, the running length of the CD is 68:44, so maybe they just didn’t have time. 2001 was also a very busy year for TMBG in general between this, Mink Car, working on No!, scoring for Malcolm in the Middle, etc.

A.S.: Oh yeah, woulda, coulda, shoulda. As it is, it’s a nice little blip of a tune, one of many in the catalogue.

2 Responses to “#10 – “The Life of Doug” (2001)”
  1. Nathan says:

    I think that, with “Bangs,” the song actually came before the short story. And I have the McSweeney’s issue, and I don’t think “Truth in Your Words” really has anything to do with the piece it accompanies. I can’t actually remember “The Life of Doug,” though.

    • Yeah, it did seem a bit weird to me that “Bangs” would wind up as a lead track on an album if it was just written to accompany some short story. I really wonder how any of these stories would be enhanced by having a 30 second instrumental to go along with them…the whole project has always seemed kind of mystifying to me, but that might just be because I haven’t yet had the chance to get my hands on a physical copy of it and experience it the way it was meant to be experienced. -L.K.

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