I think we can all agree that, as a rule, having songs in your head sucks. They’re never GOOD songs, or songs you’d WANT to hear over and over and over… A few days ago I had the “song that never ends” in my head, and that, combined with the raging virus of death, nearly liquefied my brain. But today? I am happy. The song in my head is Whistling In the Dark. Not the whole thing, just the chorus.
Is there anyone in the universe that DOESN’T like They Might be Giants? If so, I don’t want to meet them. TMBG rules. And Whistling in the Dark was my introduction.
Picture it: early summer, 1992. Erin is 12 years old, (thirteen in a month!) and in love with a boy named Kevin who she met doing community theater. It was the time of Hypercolor T shirts and grunge – Pearl Jam had just released Ten, and although the album’s true genius hadn’t yet pierced public’s psyche (remember the first time you heard Jeremy?), all seemed ripe for change. Kevin is older, by four years, say, but Erin is mature for her age, and sees no problem with pinning all her summer-love hopes on this boy who, in retrospect, was almost certainly gay.
When you’re a teenager you get worked up over things like you’ll never again be able to. A ripped shirt is a tragedy beyond compare, the right date to the dance is of paramount importance, and when you set your sights on a boy, fucking forget it. Every breath hurts.
So one day, at a pool party, Kevin gives Erin a tape. She had probably spent hours on her makeup and hair, and might even have abstained from swimming although, as a cancer and therefore a water sign, she loves nothing more than diving into cool water on a hot day. Erin spends the whole afternoon trying to catch his eye, preening and sipping diet coke and sucking in her stomach. And when he calls her aside, gives her the tape, and their hands touch, she almost faints with delight.
The tape is They Might be Giants. One side is Flood, the other is a mix. The first song on the first side is “Whistling in the Dark”. He puts the tape in a walkman, puts headphones on her ears, and hits play. And even 15 years later, when she hears the song, she’ll think of laughing in the sunshine with Kevin, singing the refrain, just shy of thirteen, hopeless, and in love.
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