#58 – “Where Your Eyes Don’t Go” (1988)

A.S.: Well, this is certainly a nice change of pace from yesterday’s song.
L.K.: Yeah, the last thing we need after that last song is something else to complain about, but there’s really nothing to complain about here. Though apparently judging by page views, people seem to like it when we hate songs…
A.S.: I don’t know if people like it, but it does prompt more clicking.  Still, it’s nice to go from their worst song to one of their best.
L.K.: I don’t know if it’s one of their best, that’s kind of debatable… but it certainly is a very good song. One of the better songs off of one of the better albums. I don’t think it’s as terrifying as most other people seem to think it is though, and some of those “other people” are pretty big-name people!
A.S.: Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman!  Well, Gaiman wasn’t terrified by it, but he does love it.
L.K.: How scary can a song be when you can sing “someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah” to its instrumental bridge?
A.S.: Some of the lyrical imagery is mildly unsettling, but that’s pretty standard for early TMBG.
L.K.: There aren’t any really terrifying They Might Be Giants songs though.
A.S.: There’s something very off about the coda, though – the weird tonality in the guitar solo, but again, not “scariest song ever” material.
L.K.: These people need to discover “Hamburger Lady” and learn what terror sounds like.
A.S.: Or “Frankie Teardrop”, which I contend to be the most horrifying song ever. Also, weirder lyrical imagery aside, I don’t know how possible it is to get freaked out by a song with the line, “You’re free to come and go / Or talk like Kurtis Blow” in the chorus.
L.K.: Maybe that’s a different kind of terror there.
A.S.: I dunno, Kurtis Blow is pretty cool.  I don’t see anything scary in talking like him.
L.K.: Talk about a weird pop culture reference, and one that is definitely lost on today’s younger audiences. I don’t know anything about him. Isn’t he a white rapper or something? Those are usually pretty scary. Or annoying at least… then again, I am basing this characterization entirely on what I know of Eminem.
A.S.: Nah, he’s one of the earliest hip hop musicians.  Responsible for big hit “The Breaks”, although I don’t know much of him outside of that song. This is a rare TMBG song that has a pretty distinct pop culture reference in it. It dates the song in a way, although I don’t know if Kurtis Blow was even that relevant in 1988, since “The Breaks” is from 1980.
L.K.: Going from the song’s lyrics to its music, the coda of this song is pretty awesome. Some folks seem to think it’s a ripoff of “Park Avenue Beat”, aka the theme song to the Perry Mason tv show. There’s some similarities, but not enough for me to say that it jumps out at me as being a deliberate reference – just a shared sort of tonality and time signature.
A.S.: A couple similar rhythmic things too, but I think the similarities are a bit overstated. This song’s music is simply fantastic, though.  The verses, in C major, have so many borrowed chords that it makes the chorus’ modulation to Eb major pretty seamless. It’s an expertly-written song.
L.K.: Something else worth noting about this song’s music is the completely different arrangement of it used for live performances back in the band’s duo days. When TMBG performs it live now, they stick fairly close to the version from Lincoln, but live performances from 1988-1990 or so use this uptempo acoustic arrangement that features a metronome as the only percussion instrument. That version notably omits the entire coda portion of the song as well.
A.S.: I prefer the studio recording/modern live performances, honestly, because the coda really does add a lot to the song. Plus, when they perform it these days, it gives Flansburgh a rare chance to play a guitar solo.
L.K.: Yeah, there’s something you don’t see very often. Go Flansy, rock that coda! (We overheard him practicing said solo while we were waiting to get into the Wolf Den at Mohegan Sun last year, right?)
A.S.: (Yup.)
L.K.: (Nothing like having a soundcheck where everybody waiting in line to get into the show can see and hear you.)
A.S.: (Nothing like waiting in line when you can gamble at slot machines.)
L.K.: The demo of this song is pretty crazy too. It’s fairly similar to the final Lincoln version, but just different enough to be really interesting.
A.S.: Especially with Linnell singing along to the “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” bit.
L.K.: Just in case you couldn’t already catch the melodic reference. The bass in the demo version is pretty cool as well.
A.S.:  There’s not much else to say about this song outside of just reiterating what an excellent composition it is. And furthermore, what’s the scariest song you’ve heard?
One Response to “#58 – “Where Your Eyes Don’t Go” (1988)”
  1. Hahah, yes, “Hamburger Lady” is indeed incredibly creepy/scary. I sent it to Quinn once.

    Q: What is this?
    Me: This is probably one of the most disturbing songs ever written.
    Q: Then why are you sending it to me?
    Me: …. I don’t know.

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