They Might Be Giants

They'll Need a Crane

Composed by They Might Be Giants

Song Review by

Although They Might Be Giants did deserve their early "wacky," "zany" tag, John Flansburgh and John Linnell have always had an almost subversive ability to couch the darkest and most depressive lyrics in their bounciest tunes. "They'll Need A Crane" was the first single from 1988's Lincoln and probably its catchiest song, but it's also one of the bluntest depictions of divorce in popular music. From the first verse, the fatalistic lyrics posit that lasting romantic happiness is impossible, and as the verses go on to document the rise and fall of a relationship (mockingly referring to the protagonists as "Lad" and "Gal" throughout, like some 19th century children's book), things just get bleaker and bleaker. The central metaphor of the chorus, of a home being physically demolished, is perfectly apt in these surroundings, and the whole thing is just unbearably sad. Meanwhile, the tune's peppy acoustic guitars and the stutter-step hook of the chorus make the song as bouncy and catchy as any Herman's Hermits single. The dichotomy is bracing for those who pay attention.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Lincoln 1988 Idlewild Recordings 2:33
No Image 1989 Restless Records
Then: The Earlier Years 1997 Restless Records 2:33
Dial-A-Song: 20 Years of They Might Be Giants 2002 Rhino 2:31
A User's Guide to They Might Be Giants 2005 Rhino / Elektra 2:31
blue highlight denotes editor's pick