They Might Be Giants

Birdhouse in Your Soul

Composed by John Flansburgh / John Linnell

Song Review by

Although their major-label sojourn ended in tears, the opening moments alone of 1990's "Birdhouse In Your Soul" prove that the added recording budget that came with the jump from tiny Bar/None Records to Elektra was well worth it. Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley's production, rather than smothering the song, brings out John Flansburgh and John Linnell's knack for dynamics and arrangement. The panoramic shifts back and forth from the quietly building verses into the instantly memorable singalong chorus would not sound nearly as impressive without the crystalline production. The song takes every advantage of the duo's increased financial resources, to the good. Lyrically, it's one of the group's finest efforts, a tune sung from the point of view of a nightlight that posits itself as the listener's guardian angel. Thanks to the inventive video, insanely catchy chorus and clever lyrics (initially obscure but easy to figure out, thereby making a generation of high school students pride themselves on their ability to "get" the song), "Birdhouse In Your Soul" was They Might Be Giants' breakthrough into the mainstream of early '90s alternative music.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Flood 1990 Elektra 3:20
No Image 1990 Elektra 3:15
On the Edge [Warner Brothers] 1992
Various Artists
Warner Bros. 3:15
Now: 1990 [1993] 1993
Various Artists
Virgin/EMI
Rock the First, Vol. 10 1996
Various Artists
DCC Compact Classics 3:20
Severe Tire Damage 1998 Columbia 3:11
No Image 1999 BMG Special Products 3:12
Dial-A-Song: 20 Years of They Might Be Giants 2002 Rhino 3:19
Future Vintage 2003
Various Artists
Warner Bros. / Warner Music 3:17
A User's Guide to They Might Be Giants 2005 Rhino / Elektra 3:19
Whatever: The '90s Pop and Culture Box 2005
Various Artists
Rhino 3:18
No Image 2005
Various Artists
Sony BMG 3:16
TBS Tunes: Fun Tracks, Wisecracks 2006
Various Artists
Rhino 3:18
100 Hits: 90's 2007
Various Artists
100 Hits 3:19
Life is Music 2008
Various Artists
Studio Brussel/EMI 3:16
Ultimate Collection: Dad 2009
Various Artists
Ultimate 3:19
No Image 2011
Various Artists
100 Hits / DMG 3:18
The Other Side of the 80's [Rhino] 2016
Various Artists
Rhino
80s Dancefloor: The Collection
Various Artists
Rhino 3:00
90 Hits of the '90s
Various Artists
Rhino 3:15
No Image
Various Artists
Rhino 3:21
Smash Hits: The 80's [2017]
Various Artists
Rhino 3:20
blue highlight denotes editor's pick