#11 – “The World’s Address” (1988)

Lincoln
A.S.: Okay, so “The World’s Address.”
L.K.: a.k.a. the song that makes me think of “Tonight” from West Side Story every time I hear it because of that one line in the lyrics…
A.S.: “The world is just an address / A place for us to live in.”
L.K.: Yep. Though there’s really not too much commonality beyond that. And this is another one of the three songs from Lincoln that didn’t make it to the Lincoln album shows the band has been doing as of late, which makes me very sad as I think it’s one of the best songs on the album.
A.S.: Absolutely, I might even go so far as to say it’s one of the band’s best songs.  It’s certainly been a favorite of mine since I first became a fan, and it was even the first TMBG song I played on my radio show.
L.K.: It’s a great example of the band’s genre-jumping skills too. It’s got a really fun little arrangement.
A.S.: And a really incredible chord progression; there’s all sorts of great modal mixture and borrowed chords going on. It’s a pretty distinctly Linnellian tune, and it’s a tough song to have down by memory, which might account for why they didn’t play it at any of the Lincoln shows.
L.K.: Yeah, the original demo of this song was sung by John Linnell, so it was almost certainly written by him… but why did John Flansburgh wind up singing it on the album and in concert?
A.S.: Well, I think we’ve finally come upon the first song that’s developed and taken shape in more than one key.
L.K.: They changed the key in addition to changing the singer.
A.S.: I think we should bring up how strange it is that when TMBG changes the key of any given song, they always bump it up. “The World’s Address” got pushed up from G minor to B flat minor, and maybe that drove the song out of Linnell’s vocal range? It also doesn’t really sound like the guitar is doing much in the verses, or really anywhere outside of the main riff, so maybe it was just a means to give Flansburgh something to do.
L.K.: Flans has done much less in songs (coughMesopotamianscough).
A.S.: But as restless as he may be now, he certainly seemed more so in 1987.
L.K.: I wonder which came first, the decision to change the key, the decision to change the vocalist, or the basic idea for the final arrangement of the song in general.
A.S.: Oh man, that’d be some really wonderful insight into the creative process.
L.K.: TMBG’s tendency to raise the keys of songs when performing stuff live is another odd tendency of theirs given that most bands lower the keys of songs in concert, but in this case the decision about song keys was all being done in the studio
A.S.: Right.  And thinking about it more, slightly changing the subject a bit, I guess the song isn’t that difficult to learn – in fact it’s pretty flat-out stupid of me to say that of a band that’s been doing what they do for 30 years. So I wonder why exactly they haven’t been playing it live.
L.K.: No clue, because it’s been decades since this tune has graced a setlist. It seems like it might not translate well to a 5-piece rock band lineup, but why not pull it out for a show with a brass section? Hell, or why didn’t they play it more back when they had a backing tape?
A.S.: Holy god, a brass section on this one would be perfect. Yeah, this song seems to be unreasonably shrouded in mystery.
L.K.: The lyrics aren’t too mysterious though; it’s mostly just built around a bad pun that the song itself acknowledges is a bad pun.
A.S.: Self-aware lyricism.
L.K.: The verses are kind of cryptic though… How does one get tearstains on a wall anyway?
A.S.: And I don’t know if “Everyone looks naked when you know the world’s address” is supposed to mean anything at all, but it does a pretty good job at sounding like it’s supposed to. This song is also the basis for probably the best remix of any TMBG song.
L.K.: Yes, the only TMBG remix I really like (outside of one of the “Snail Dust”s… I forget which one)
A.S.: Oh right, forgot about “Snail Dust”.  That one’s good too, but that doesn’t have the line, “Someone in a club tonight has stolen my ideas.”
L.K.: If I remember correctly, all the samples in that remix are homemade.
A.S.: I was unaware; that’s great. That’d also explain the “Paging Mr. Saxophone” line, which seems almost too idiosyncratic for TMBG to have come from somewhere else. The whole remix really could never be the product of another band.
L.K.: Going back to the demo, the screaming during the instrumental section of the song always weirds me out a little, except it’s too goofy to be creepy.
A.S.: And that sort of thing is to be expected of them at that point in their career anyway.
L.K.: Yeah.
A.S.: I feel like we’ve been rendered speechless by this song.
L.K.: Possibly.
A.S.: It really speaks for itself.
L.K.: It’s too good for words.
A.S.: It’s just an incredible song. Go listen to it now.
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