#106 – “Indiana Wants Me” (198?)

TMBG Unlimited - July
A.S.: So here’s another song that isn’t quite TMBG but was released by TMBG.
L.K.: It’s from a pre-TMBG band John Flansburgh was in. I don’t know if they recorded any other songs or if this was their only recording.
A.S.: This song features members of The Turtlenecks, the band Flansburgh was in that not only immediately predated TMBG but also, as Flansburgh says, “I feel the spirit of the band was more kind of coming from where They Might Be Giants was coming from.”
L.K.: As opposed to The Blackouts?
A.S.: Yeah, I guess so.
L.K.: Now there’s a band I’d like to see recordings surface from…
A.S.: YES.  Apparently the Turtlenecks used to cover “Sweet Home Alabama” a lot and the drummer liked to stop playing in the middle of songs live, only to start up again once people started getting confused.
L.K.: A song about Alabama and a song about Indiana. It’s like State Songs except it isn’t at all like State Songs.
A.S.: Well this one is also a cover.
L.K.: Yeah, despite Flans’s assertion that the band did all original songs (except “Sweet Home Alabama”). This is apparently the group “Alienation’s For The Rich” was originally written for though, so I can’t help but wonder if there’s some ancient demo of that song that predates TMBG sitting around somewhere…
A.S.: Oh yeah; we’ll discuss that one at a later point again, but this song… Originally a hit by R. Dean Taylor on Motown’s offshoot Rare Earth label, it’s a really bouncy piece of early 70s A.M. pop that I wouldn’t know existed were it not for this cover. And Flansburgh stays faithful to the original insomuch as starting it with humming and ending it with policeman banter, but strays from the original by changing the rhythm to a more standard driving rock beat and… well, bursting into laughter at the end.
L.K.: Yeah, this is a cover whose original version is fairly easy to turn up with a YouTube search, and while it’s not a radically reimagined cover, the whole feel of the original is certainly quite different. I do love the incredibly low-budget sound effects of The Turtlenecks’ version.
A.S.: Yeah It sounds a lot to me like an early Ween recording. Super lo-fi, very muddled voices.
L.K.: I guess Flans is singing lead on this, but it sure doesn’t sound like him.
A.S.: His voice is extremely affected.
L.K.: It’s the weirdest sort of affected voice–I can’t tell what effect he’s going for. It doesn’t sound like the original singer. I have no idea what it sounds like.
A.S.: Pretty much the opposite of the sprightly, shiny pop voice in Taylor’s original. Although man, I can understand the appeal in covering this… it’s a strange, strange song to begin with–This jaunty pop tune with strings about being on the lam.  Kind of strange stuff. Curiously enough, The Turtlenecks weren’t the only group with lo-fi sensibilities to cover Taylor’s stuff – The Fall also covered a couple of his songs as well.
L.K.: Weird, considering that I’d never heard of him before.
A.S.: Yeah, I hadn’t either, given that “Indiana Wants Me” is his biggest hit. Tindersticks also covered an R. Dean Taylor song as well.  Guess he’s developed a bit of a cult following, then.
L.K.: I wish I knew when exactly this cover is from, but I suspect this probably immediately predated TMBG. At the very least, it probably was at least a band Flans was in after he moved to Brooklyn
A.S.: Yeah, that all seems about right.  I only hope other recordings were made and have survived from this era.  This is a fascinating cover; I’d love to hear anything else The Turtlenecks did.
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