#50 – “Tryptophan” (Mono Puff; 1995)

The Devil Went Down To Newport EP

L.K.: Or however it’s spelled.

A.S.: Not even Flansburgh can decide how it’s spelled, it seems, even though as far as I know, it’s correct without the “e”.  Many Thanksgivings have taught me this.
L.K.: Well I think it’s the amino acid versus… the substance? I don’t know, I’m a terrible biology major.
A.S.: I feel like I’ve read things explaining that tryptophan’s effects are often exaggerated in the public mind.
L.K.: Oh no, it’s total exaggeration. There is nowhere near enough tryptophan in turkey to make you fall asleep, so I’m sort of angry at this song for perpetuating that myth.
A.S.: But you can’t stay angry at this song!  It’s an extremely pleasant little tune.
L.K.: And what a little song it is. I always used to stop it before the ending because the high-pitched tone and faux-heartbeat type noises made me uncomfortable.
A.S.: Yeah, the ending is a bit unsettling.  The Johns sure like to end things weirdly, don’t they?
L.K.: Eh, there have been weirder. I was just staying up last night thinking about Elvis Costello albums that ended really unsettlingly.
A.S.: Oh god. This Year’s Model.
L.K.: “Night Rally” on the original version of This Year’s Model. Also “Big Sister’s Clothes” at the end of Trust, which just ends with these really creepy noises.
A.S.: Greatest album ending.
L.K.: Yeah, “Night Rally”… Speaking of original UK editions of albums, that end loop to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
A.S.: That’s another one, although that’s not so much unsettling as just goofy/obnoxious.
L.K.: Actually, that ends with an annoying high pitch too. Argh.
A.S.: I wish I could think of some other unsettling album or song endings right now, but I’m blanking out completely.  We’ll return to this subject though. The Johns do like to tack on unrelated/strange endings to otherwise normal songs though, as we’ve already sort of come across with “Budnitz #1”.
L.K.: They don’t do it that often though, I don’t think. You know, this song was so stupidly hard for me to get ahold of.
A.S.: Really?
L.K.: I think I actually had to tape it off of TMBG Clock Radio.
A.S.: I forget how I finally acquired it, honestly.
L.K.: I think I gave it to you!
A.S.: Maybe…
L.K.: It was only released on Mono Puff EPs, which are kind of hard to come by.
A.S.: It’s the first song on the first Mono Puff release, the Hello John Flansburgh’s Mono Puff EP, which I still haven’t heard in full.
L.K.: Oh yeah, I have absolutely no idea where you’re supposed to find the Mono Puff Hello EPs. I’d be interested in hearing the demo versions of the other songs on that first EP…
A.S.: I would too, especially a seemingly much abbreviated “Unsupervised, I Hit My Head”.
L.K.: Or the group a cappella “So Long, Mockingbird”.
A.S.: And speaking of EPs, “Tryptophan” completes our discussion of The Devil Went Down To Newport EP
L.K.: Wow, really? I guess it is an EP…
A.S.: Well, wait, there’s an alternate version of “Devil Went Down…” that we didn’t discuss at all.  A slower version?  I haven’t heard it though, so uh… oops. But otherwise, that does it. That EP is DEAD TO US.
L.K.: Aww.
A.S.: I was thinking that could be a feature.  Whenever we finish an album, we can proclaim really dramatically that it’s DEAD TO US… No?
L.K.: I dunno. I mean, I’m not that attached personally to this EP, or to like, the children’s albums. But I don’t want to KILL LINCOLN.
A.S.: Okay, fine. Ugh, you set yourself up for a really dumb, obvious joke that I won’t make
L.K.: Assassination of Lincoln. AGAIN.
A.S.: Okay, you just made it.
L.K.: “I am going to the Lordy”… oh wait, that was Garfield’s assassin.
A.S.: Ah, Guiteau, you kook, you. So, uh, “Tryptophan”. Nice Flans-piano there.
L.K.: Ah, the elusive Flans-piano… well I mean, it’s basically the only instrument there.
A.S.: It’s a good sound, completely unlike everything else in the Mono Puff catalogue. And the lyrics, at least in the second verse, are weirdly poetic. Or are otherwise a subtle parody of poetry.
L.K.: Who’d have thought tryptophan induces weird altered states? Talking about swans and shit.
A.S.: Chalk this up to another Flansburgh drug song.
L.K.: Well, except not. It’s a Flansburgh amino acid song.
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