Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 139 Revisted

Today's song is... (once again)

Birdhouse In Your Soul

Those of you who have been reading these posts for a long time, might remember that on my first birthday after I started Song Of The Day, my dear friend Megan gave me a vacation for a day and selected Birdhouse as my very own birthday song. Though it was a logical choice, given the name of this blog, I've never quite felt I was worthy of the honor. But more importantly, I was away from home when it was posted and so busy that week that I never got a chance to reply with my own comments. I always meant to go back and there has even been a post on the song sitting in drafts for probably close to two years now. But eventually, it just seemed like too much time had passed and it was no longer relevant. But I can not allow Song of the Day to pass into the night without sharing my thoughts on this most monumental of songs. So I hope you will forgive me this repeat post, and consider this a form of closure for dear old SOTD.

Birdhouse is not my favorite song. It's my second, if we are being specific. But it is what I would consider to be THE perfect TMBG song. It has all the elements that I love about their music: insanely catchy melody, amusing and unlikely subject matter handled in a serious way, cryptic and beautiful lyrics, and it stands up to repeated listenings better than pretty much any other song. Birdhouse has quite literally become the background music of my daily life. It is my alarm that wakes me up in the morning, my ringtone when anyone calls me. Its lyrics are not only the name of this blog, but also my email address and my identity on nearly every online site that requires a user name. Blue Canary has become a second identity for me, so much so that I often run into people at shows who know me only by that name. Not to mention, that every time I look down, there is a reminder right there on my wrist.


Truth be told, I hear Birdhouse so often, or snatches of it anyway, that sometimes I forget to really listen to it as a song. But then, every so often, I step back and let it really sink in and can still feel my heart swell up with love for just how good a song it is, from start to finish. The rhythm and keyboard measure just after the first lyrics is probably one of my favorite musical phrases in all of music. It's almost like a drum roll for what it about to come. And the melody of the song is just so damn happy. You just can't be sad listening to Birdhouse. The song commands you to pogo, bop your head, tap your feet and enjoy what a really happy song can do for your soul. I adore the bass line that comes through much more in the recorded version than it does live, and the trumpet solo that blares out in celebration.

And then there are the lyrics. You might think that a song sung from the perspective of a blue canary nightlight would be cutesy and childish, but John Linnell is enough of a genius that he manages to make it beautiful and introspective. The nightlight just wants to be your friend. It spends its days watching over you and wants to be as important to you, as you are to it. The light is introspective, considering its ancestry and its purpose in life, and really how could you not make room in your soul for such a charming little bird.

As much as I love the recorded version of Birdhouse, it doesn't hold a candle to the experience of hearing it live. With those iconic cymbal beats (played at every soundcheck ever to test the cymbal), that ring like an announcement that something wonderful is coming, the beginning of Birdhouse at a show is the moment at which even an already enthusiastic crowd goes absolutely wild. It's the song that even your friend who only came along because the ticket was free can't help but sing along to. As the drum beats thrum into the main body of the song, the audience starts head banging, followed by the most energetic pogoing you are likely to see. And I challenge you not to feel connected to every single human being in the room, as you scream out "who watches over you!" I remember standing at a show in Pittsburgh several years ago, and watching the energy level of the crowd explode as this song was played, and wishing desperately, that every single person who had every questioned why I spend so much of my time and money going to all these shows, could be in that room so that I could say, "See this? This is why."

For me, Birdhouse has gone beyond being a simple song. The tattoo on my wrist represents so many things. The blue canary, that has become part of my identity. The song that can always make me happy. The lyric, that is my most favorite in all the catalog. "Bluebird of friendliness, like guardian angels it's always near." But most importantly, it is a way to keep the band close to me. To remind me that no matter where life takes me, no matter how bad things get, this band and its music are always near to lift me up and make me feel at home. Watching over me, so to speak. For I truly have made that birdhouse in my soul, not just for the little blue canary nightlight, or even the song that contains him, but for the band that brought him to me. They have changed my life in ways I couldn't even begin to number, bringing people and places and experiences into it that I never would have had without them. And the music. Always the music.

It has been my great pleasure to share that music with you all over the last few years, through Song of the Day. I'd like to thank each and every one of you who ever read one of these posts, for reading, following along, sharing your thoughts and listening to mine. As fellow TMBG fans, we all share a unique bond found in the love of something which is greater than all of us, and yet would not be possible without us. Because what good is music, if there is no one there to hear it, appreciate it, share it, love it, and let it into our very souls? Thank you all coming along on this journey with me. Though this project is done, I hope I can continue to share my passion for this band with you, in whatever format I find next, for many more years to come.

Now, if you'll all join me, stop what you're doing, turn up the speakers, sing at the top of your lungs and let's dance!

Birdhouse in Your Soul - They Might Be Giants from They Might Be Giants on Vimeo.


  1. I haven't read back through all of them yet, but what a wonderful way to end it all. For me, it is also my second favorite song (behind Ana Ng), but it was the song that got me hooked. A friend had Flood and I can remember listening to this song over and over trying to memorize all the lyrics. Over the years the song transformed meaning from a silly jumble of catchy words to something deeper. It helped me go back and look at other TMBG songs for that deeper meaning.

    Those 6 cymbal taps at a live show give me immense joy. I usually start jumping and yelling before those around me know what's going on. Then I sit back and listen to roar of the crowd as they realize what song is playing. Even those who don't know the Giants know this song.

    - Stephen from KC (Because it won't let me post with a FB ID)

  2. This so is so many things to me. I goes all the way back to 1993. My freshman year of high school. My 8th grade year was hell, I moved into a very clichey town and made a very poor attempt to "fit in" with the cool kids. I'd lived in the mountains of VA for most my childhood and had no real exposure to any music outside top 40 or my dad's old records. The first day of 9th grade an older student sitting next to me in Algebra class whispered to me "Do you understand any of this shit?" Thus began one of the most influential friendships of my life.

    A few weeks later we were inseparable. That's when he handed me Apollo 18. It started as a conversation about the random feature on newer cd players, which lead to fingertips, which mean I had to hear this band. I'm almost pretty sure I still have his copy of Apollo 18. After that I needed more, so out came Flood, and once I got to this song I was in love. I listened to it on repeat for days.

    About this time we acquired an AoL account. My first ever user name: Blue Canary. We had AoL for only a few months before ditching it for the real internet. At that time I found IRC and most networks had a 9 character limit. That's how I ended up at blucanary. I got attached to that spelling so even in the age of unlimited characters I still use it instead of the whole word. Also no caps. That's also where I found my husband. Forever shall I be his blucanary. That's why he bought me my first ever concert ticket as an early Anniversary gift and why he encourages me now that I've rediscovered my passion.

    On the last big road trip I managed to locate that friend who loaned me Apollo 18 and before the Raleigh show we had lunch. It was so awesome seeing him again that I almost didn't make it into Raleigh before rush hour.

    Sorry for blogging on your blog but your words just reminded me so much about how I feel, and how much this song moves me. It may no longer be my "favorite" song but it will always supersede any such lists in my heart.

  3. Well done, Kelly.