They Might Be Giants have released a cover of Jonathan's "I was Dancing in a Lesbian Bar". Both the cover and a Lauren Flax remix have been posted to their youtube channel. I am a big TMBG fan, but I can't say these particular covers really do it for me on the intial play. We will see, a lot of TMBG stuff grows on me over time even if I didn't care for it on the first pass. (disclosure: they are one corner of my triumvirate of all time favorites) I have that reaction to a lot of covers if it is a song I have listened to many, many, many, times, and certainly I've enjoyed many variations and live performances of IWDIALB here on the jojoblog.
The Lauren Flax Remix
Jonathan is cited in many little blurbs as an influence and inspiration for They Might Be Giants – but I couldn’t find an actual interview quote or primary source. It makes perfect sense given TMBG’s long and strong position as Brooklyn’s ambassadors of love and considering their timelines. However, the ubiquity of the wording makes it seem a little copypasta, so I wanted to outline some thoughts and dig around to find some actual direct quotes.
Singer songwriters – check
Two man core setup – check (no to downplay the collaborative live band that modern TMBG is)
Strong sense of Americana and New England – check
Lyrics that are playful and have a free association vibe – check
Lyrics that drive at our human motivations, fascinations, joys, loves, fears – check
Known for a purity or innocence of spirit - check
Genre defiance – check
Still playing after all these years – check
Not content to ride a vast catalogue but constantly creating new work – check
Often both sited together as an influence on other artists – check
Strong appeal to self-identified nerdy or quirky crowds – check
Largely independent – check
Crossovers in bands that cover them in tribute(http://jojofiles.
blogspot.com/2006_03_01_ archive.html) – check
Have an album or album’s worth of material that is kid delightful - check
Apparently there is a new book describing the movement they belong to as “Twee” (http://blog.mediander.com/
twee-as-heck/) This idea is new to me.
I went a dozen pages deep in google links and found no directly attributed quotes of one discussing the other, but TMBG do appear to have been playing the song since at least 2013 for in studio appearances per their tweets. TMBG do a LOT of press and have been very active in online media and the internet from very very early on, so there are a lot of hits for them, maybe someone with stronger SearchFu than me can find a nice interview discussion of the subject but it may be lore that is only covered in physical zine or print and now is just an established internet fact.
When they come to SF in May I will see if I can get a few words from both Johns on their Jojo thoughts.
So there is a lot going on there. They share similar geographic roots. They came of age in the same sonic generation. They have similar cohorts in the punk/new wave explosion.
What do you think?