#37 – “Imaginary Friend” (Mono Puff; 1998)

It's Fun To Steal

L.K.: This is another one of those funky Mono Puff things that I tend to get confused with other Mono Puff things.

A.S.: I suppose, although a lot of those aren’t traditionally structured pop songs like this one is. So that sets this one apart from some of the others.
L.K.: I feel like this narrator is particularly unreliable and possibly under the influence of something. I love the “deepest, darkest Massachusetts” line so much though.
A.S.: That is a great line. I also love the faint “Eric” before Schermerhorn’s solo.
L.K.: Yeah, little bit of fourth wall breaking there.
A.S.: Also, did he just sample a bunch of handclaps from different media for this track?  It’s a cool sound but that’s a totally roundabout way to go about that.
L.K.: I don’t know, there’s a whole lotta sampling going on in this album as a whole.
A.S.: Because the credits claim that Trini Lopez and The Blow Monkeys provided handclaps for the song, and there’s also this blurb from Flans himself.
L.K.: Ah, the wide world of samples of dubious legality in pre-millennium TMBG projects and side-projects. They’ve really become a lot more cautious about that in recent years. The “sample” at the beginning of “Celebration” was apparently a homemade thing to mimic something else that they were afraid to use for fear of legal ramifications.
A.S.: It’s almost certainly the most pointless sampling in the band’s history too, which is also why it’s pretty great.

L.K.: Yeah, silly or pointless illegal sampling was rampant in a lot of the band’s earlier work, and it was never more pointless than it is here. How hard is it to record your own handclaps?

A.S.: It’s definitely the product of a desire for studio fuckery even knowing that it wouldn’t be evident in the recording rather than necessity.
L.K.: Mono Puff = an excuse for gratuitous studio fuckery in general. BUT IT’S GREAT. Flans on his own wants to dick around with samples, while Linnell on his own wants to write music for band organs.
A.S.: Flans wants to dick around with samples and get his groove on.
L.K.: Yeah, that too.
A.S.: As we’ve implied earlier, working within a funk/groove format would require for a songwriter to create a catchy, consistent riff to work off, since at its simplest, that’s how funk works.  So as a result, a lot of the Mono Puff songs have pretty noticeable “riffs”.  This is another one of those songs.
L.K.: Apparently the “felt-tip pen” line is a reference to cartoonist (and frequent TMBG collaborator) Tony Millionaire.
A.S.: “The beauty of a felt-tip pen.”  Yeah I guess it’d take a cartoonist to inspire a line like that.
L.K.: That still doesn’t really explain it in the context of the rest of the song; before I read that, I thought the narrator was huffing them or something. You could draw your own imaginary friends though, surround yourself with cartoons.
A.S.: You know, someone found our site yesterday by Googling “John Flansburgh drugs”
L.K.: I saw that! I am intensely amused by that. And here I am talking about drugs again. I don’t know if that was intended or not in the lyrics. In this case, I kind of doubt it.
A.S.: Probably not.
L.K.: But being totally high out of your mind is another way to live a totally insular existence.
A.S.: True
L.K.: The idea of it being about an isolated cartoonist-type is also intriguing to me now. Regardless, the narrator of this song is pretty…”off”, which makes the “Eric” all the more jarring. For some reason, the “Dan!” in “Cyclops Rock” doesn’t seem as strange to me.
A.S.: I just hear it as more inexplicable weirdness. I’m pretty unimaginative when it comes to these things.
3 Responses to “#37 – “Imaginary Friend” (Mono Puff; 1998)”
  1. Nathan says:

    An earlier version of this song used “felt-tip pen” instead of “imaginary friend” throughout.

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