#32 – “Alphabet Of Nations” (2005)

Here Come The ABCs
L.K.: You know, this might be the kids song that has wound up being played in more “adult” shows than any other.
A.S.: I think “Clap Your Hands” might be the only one that’s been played more.
L.K.: Similar to “Clap Your Hands”, different sections of the fanbase seem to have pretty different opinions about this song, and yet the song keeps getting played at grown-up concerts anyway, primarily because the band seems to enjoy performing it. It’s a great chance for John Linnell to be a massive ham despite his usual reputation as “the quiet one”.
A.S.: Yeah, especially during the live-only bridge.
L.K.: Yeah, I heard this song live first, so hearing the original album version was kind of a disappointment. That ridiculous bridge is the best part of the song; without it, it’s just a list of countries in alphabetical order.
A.S.: That said, it’s still among the better tracks on ABCs.
L.K.: They performed this on national television not once but twice, right?
A.S.: Twice?  Really?
L.K.: Once when ABCs was first released, and then again for uh… no apparent reason.
A.S.: They must really love this song.
L.K.: This and “The Mesopotamians”. I wonder why? I think the Johns just like it because they don’t have to play any instruments on it. But Dan Miller gets to play piano! I wonder if he realized when he first signed up as lead guitarist how much keyboard he’d eventually wind up playing.
A.S.: He really knows what he’s doing though.
L.K.: Oh yeah, he (almost) always nails his piano parts.
A.S.: And personally, I love playing more than one instrument in any single setting.
L.K.: It’s just kind of weird for the lead guitarist to be the one doing that. I don’t know, I’m just thinking of Pat Sansone in Wilco or something, who doubles on guitar and keyboards, but he’s just officially billed as “multi-instrumentalist”. For a guitarist to do that, it seems kind of rarer.
A.S.: I suppose, although I guess I’m used to a lot of bands/musicians who will switch off instruments at every song, or those studio wizardry folks who will play everything on an album. Change of subject: so we know West Xylophone is not a country, but what the hell is this website?
L.K.: I… have no idea. I am positive this did not predate the song. I have no idea why somebody would go to the effort of making a website for a fictional country with a stupid name though.
A.S.: So people could buy T-shirts?
L.K.: I wonder if the Johns realized no countries’ names started with W or X  when they came up with the idea for this song…
A.S.: Probably.
L.K.: There’s not too much to say about the song itself, so I’m going to pluck a few notable videos out from the vast array of videos of this song on YouTube.
A.S.: Okay, excellent.  I was planning on just ending it with the Craig Ferguson performance, but if you find anything better, let me know.
L.K.: The song’s tv debut on Conan has the band wearing some snazzy suits, and Dan Miller actually gets to play a real piano!

L.K.: Also Dan is wearing his AWESOME HAT.

A.S.: And he’s at a grand piano! For as often as pianos are featured in TMBG songs, it’s a rare occasion to actually see them perform on a grand piano.
L.K.: Then of course, there’s the Craig Ferguson performance, which is great because Flans looks like he’s trying to channel Mick Jagger or something at the end. It’s really ridiculous. (Also fangirls want to poke his belly towards the end there…)
A.S.: (That’s extremely creepy.)
L.K.: Then there are a billion performances of it taped at concerts, but my favorite is probably the one where Linnell’s mic doesn’t work, he tries to take Flans’s mic, and Flans just bats him away like a cat. Any performance where Linnell is especially hammy during the bridge is also good, but again, there are a billion videos of this song on YouTube.
A.S.: Yeah, you can YouTube search ’em yourself if for some reason you really feel compelled to.
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