John Linnell of They Might Be Giants has a great skill for writing hooky pop songs whose lyrics incorporate intellectual inquiry. He’s written songs that present potted – but accurate – histories of US Presidential candidates (“James K. Polk“) and Mesopotamian kings (The Mesopotamians“), detailed considerations of phrenology (“Contrecoup“) and taxonomy (“Mammal“), and simple philosophical truths (“Older“).
It’s no surprise that They Might Be Giants have had so much success in the educational kids’ music field, with Here Come the 123s, Here Come the ABCs, and the recently announced Here Comes Science, providing fun and playful singalong primers that are a natural progression of the band’s lyrical tendencies.
“One Everything” is a great example of the last kind of song, containing many wonderful philosophically flavoured lyrical gems, but for me the standout would have to be:
What if you drew a giant circle?
What if it went around all there is?
Then would there still be such a thing as an outside?
And does that question even make any sense?
The fact that these questions are presented in the form of a kids’ song, as performed by a talking world globe, fills both my dad-heart and my nerd-heart with joy. Here’s to the opposite of dumbing down. Enjoy the song.