#40 – “Mrs. Cinderella” (19???)

L.K.: Aww, one of those weird little Dial-A-Song numbers that never progressed beyond the answering machine.
A.S.: A good song at that.  One with some sad-sack Flansburghian lyrics, perfect for Valentine’s Day!
L.K.: Musically it’s pretty simple, lyrically it’s pretty incomprehensible… perhaps it was a good thing this song got left behind. There’s obviously some sort of reference to the Cinderella fairy tale going on, but I can’t quite puzzle out what the narrator’s relation to anything is. “When it turns twelve o’clock/ I’ll be back by myself/ And you’ll be back in his arms/ As Mrs. Somebody Else.
A.S.: The actual Cinderella reference is a little confusing outside of the “twelve o’clock” bit, but overall, the lyrics seem relatively straightforward.  It’s an anti-love song, aimed at a girl who’s “been around the world” – presumably a lady of the night.
L.K.: Why the narrator is so afraid of her though… “please don’t pound on my chest” “please don’t knock down my door” I’m just going to assume it’s not a very positive relationship going on between them. Of course, then the last part of the lyrics comes in and is just silly.
A.S.: Especially with Linnell speaking the lyrics, overtly enunciated.
L.K.: I’m guessing Flans or whoever wrote it didn’t really know where he was going with the song and decided it wasn’t worth the trouble to develop it further.
A.S.: I think it works fine as just a little minute-long ditty, though.
L.K.: Yeah, but how it would get developed into a full song is pretty unclear.
A.S.: It really is one of those Dial-A-Songs that just got tossed right out – never made it on a podcast, never wound up as another song, so little is known about it.
L.K.: Who knows how many of these there were that never even got recorded and stuck on bootlegs by fans? The Dial-A-Song machine did sort of provide an impetus for the Johns to be continually composing stuff to put up on it, but simply by virtue of the amount of stuff they were churning out at such a rate, the songs couldn’t all be keepers.
A.S.: It’s an odd practice if the songs surfaced once only to never surface again, but we are talking about an odd band.
L.K.: Well, I’m sure most bands probably do similar things, but the difference is that the songs never showed up in a public place.
A.S.: Yeah, they remained virtually entirely unknown, unlike these slight inklings of existence.
L.K.: TMBG actually seemed less self-conscious in their early days because they were confident that nobody was really paying that much attention to individual songs on dial-a-song–they didn’t think anybody was recording them. They didn’t think people were taping live concerts so they didn’t have to worry about trying out new songs there years before they wound up on albums. TMBG isn’t alone in being more paranoid now that they know everything is being recorded by rabid fans, it actually seems pretty common with most bands nowadays.
A.S.: Well at least at live shows now, they’re encouraging fan videos and whatnot.
L.K.: Yeah, but we’re seeing a lot fewer demos and things of more recent songs coming out. We’re not seeing things showing up in setlists before they come out on albums. That happened with “Canajoharie” in 2010 when Linnell actually said (I’m paraphrasing here) “Oh, this is new, we’re working on it, you probably shouldn’t film this because it isn’t finished yet”…and then of course it was up on YouTube anyway. Though in that case, it was actually part of a webcast, so Linnell trying to control dissemination of that song seemed kind of silly in that context.
A.S.: Controlling dissemination of just about anything these days is a bit futile if you have any sort of following.
L.K.: But yeah, the thing about Dial-A-Song is that it was such an impermanent way of getting songs out there, and the Johns, as well as most bands of the pre-YouTube era seem to miss that. Flans even said that he wished there was a way he could do a podcast or something where it would just disappear after a couple of weeks. But yeah, I agree, we’re way past the point where that sort of thing could be controlled.
A.S.: Outside of mere self-consciousness or for financial gain, I don’t know why anyone would want to remove songs from public existence in that regard, though. Or just mere self-indulgence I suppose, but in that case, just never release it at all(??)
L.K.: I don’t know, the Johns are pretty neurotic… I would go with “self-conscious”.
A.S.: Yeah, I guess if they weren’t their music wouldn’t sound like it does. You give and you take.
L.K.: They actually shut down a fan tribute album being organized through TMBW because there were Dial-A-Song-only songs on it. The official position of the band appears to be that they do not support dissemination of things they haven’t released themselves, which makes me wonder just how embarrassed they are by some of the DAS stuff. Some of it has been released by the band through podcasts and things, but then some of it never has, in any form or context. I’ll guess we’ll get back to this discussion when “Bread Hair” comes up on shuffle…
A.S.: It’s a shame they’re so embarrassed by it though, because a lot of it is really good.
L.K.: We’ll never know…
One Response to “#40 – “Mrs. Cinderella” (19???)”
  1. Nathan says:

    Isn’t it typical for TMBG’s narrators to be terrified of women, especially in their earlier songs?

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