Thirty years ago, in the autumn of 1988, They Might Be Giants released their second full-length album, Lincoln. Promoted in a print advertisement as an extension of a storied naming history that included the car, the tunnel, the man, and the log, Lincoln was an ideal college radio album. It was funny, smart, loopy, decidedly offbeat, and its eighteen tracks roamed freely across musical genres. No matter what was needed in a set, They Might Be Giants had a song that fit the bill. As an added bonus, the songs were short, with several clocking in at under two minutes. The longest couldn’t quite make it to three-and-a-half minutes. This might not seem like a big deal, but only to individuals who never endured the stress of back-timing to hit AP network news cleanly at the top of the hour.
Like everyone else at my college radio station, I adored “Ana Ng,” the album’s lead single (and, as it happens, longest cut). Unlike some of the other records in rotation that fall with specific college radio hits, Lincoln rewarded extra digging. I swear I played every last song off the album multiple times, switching my choice of favorite with regularity. That seemed to be a common approach among my cohorts. It was difficult to prove personal coolness with the obscurity of a deep cut because everyone knew the entire album so well. Even in trying to settle on a choice for today, I equivocated and dithered.
I wound up on “The World’s Address,” mostly out of an abiding affection for both the lunatic samba groove and the lyrics “Call the men of science and let them hear this song/ Tell them Albert Einstein and Copernicus were wrong.” Tomorrow, I might very well pick a different song. The beauty of Lincoln, especially as an eager, learning college radio DJ, was that every one of those choices was a winner.
Listen or download > They Might Be Giants, “The World’s Address”
(Disclaimer: It’s not entirely clear to me if Lincoln is available as a physical object that can be procured from your favorite local, independently owned record store. It looks like it might be offered on vinyl, but not CD. The first two They Might Be Giants albums were smashed together — along with various extra bits — on a compilation called Then, but I’m not sure that’s available, either. If these releases can be purchased in a way that compensates both the original artist and the proprietor of said shop, I urge you to do so, and this selection should be viewed as a sample encouraged that commerce rather than a replacement for it. Or go see the band play live. They’re great in that setting. All that justification for sharing typed, I do know the rules. I will gladly and promptly remove this track from my little corner of the digital world if asked to do so by any individual or entity with due authority to make such a request.)