Ana Ng

From This Might Be A Wiki
Official video
1988 Handbill Advert
Pogo comic strip, Aug. 9, 1953: Churchy La Femme shoots a hole in a desktop globe

song name Ana Ng
artist They Might Be Giants
releases Lincoln, Ana Ng (Single), Then: The Earlier Years, Selections From Then, Direct From Brooklyn, Best Of The Early Years, Dial-A-Song: 20 Years Of They Might Be Giants, A User's Guide To They Might Be Giants: Melody, Fidelity, Quantity, 50,000,000 They Might Be Giants Songs Can't Be Wrong, Modern
year 1988
first played April 2, 1988 (798 known performances)
run time 3:23
sung by John Linnell; Lisa Klapp recites the final line of the bridge


  • The title of the track came from an experience John Linnell had when he found a substantial number of people with the surname Ng listed in a phone book. Linnell in Pitchfork Magazine, 1996:
I think I was collecting possible song ideas and, for some reason, I ended up looking in the phone book, and there were about four pages of this name that contains no vowels, Ng. I was fascinated because it's a name I didn't know about before, and it was filling up a large chunk of the Manhattan white pages. I called up some of the numbers kind of experimentally to find out how it was pronounced, and I got the phone machine of a Dr. Ng and I was kind of relieved. The message said, "Dr. Ng is not in," and I had my material.
  • Part of the song's concept was inspired by a Pogo strip by Walt Kelly that appeared on August 9, 1953. Linnell in Pitchfork Magazine, 1996:
The other inspiration for [Ana Ng] was a Pogo comic strip. [...] Some of the characters are digging a hole. They decide they're going to dig to China, but one of the smarter characters [Churchy La Femme] pulls this huge revolver out of a drawer and shoots a hole "in the desktop globe." Then they look at the other side and the hole is in the Indian Ocean.
  • In a 1988 interview on MTV, Linnell said:
The name Ng seems to be a Vietnamese name... So if you look at the globe and you find Vietnam, you'll see that the opposite side of the world from Vietnam is Peru. So the song, presumably, is about someone in Peru, writing about somebody in Vietnam. But I didn't know that when I wrote it.
  • The video was directed by Adam Bernstein and the exterior shots were filmed at the FDNY Training Academy, Randall's Island, New York City. Throughout the music video, portraits of John Flansburgh's grandfather and Linnell's great grandfather can be spotted. The video also includes a shot of cards from "Touring", a card game dating back to 1906 that was popular in the United States during the early 1960s. (For more information on the making of the video, see Myke Weiskopf Interviews Adam Bernstein).
  • The line "I don't want the world; I just want your half," is said by Lisa Klapp, a friend of John and John's, and recorded through a telephone. In live performances, the band has been known to alter the bridge in several ways:
  • On Live!! New York City, Linnell sings no words and imitates the sound of radio static. The same recording was used for Severe Tire Damage, but for that album, the radio static was replaced with the sound of Flansburgh screaming the original line into his guitar pickups with a Mid-Atlantic accent.
  • Linnell sometimes sings "It's a small girl after all" during the bridge.
  • In 1996, Linnell would occasionally open the song with the chant of "OVERSIZED LOAD," and this line would, in the bridge, replace "I don't want the world; I just want your half."
  • Flansburgh has often been known to sing the aforementioned line in a falsetto with a melody similar to "Love people are there / The smell of love is everywhere" from "I've Got A Match."
  • The line "eighty dolls yelling 'Small Girl After All'" is a reference to the ride "It's A Small World", created for the 1964 World's Fair and now residing at several Disney theme parks.
  • The line "water spirals the wrong way out the sink" alludes to the mistaken belief that water going down a sink rotates counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere due to the Coriolis effect.
  • In an old Q&A, Linnell stated that the line "I don't want the world, I just want your half" "came out of a conversation we once had about money."
  • Linnell sometimes sings "human hair" instead of "humid air" when the song is played live.
  • In the early 90s show Clarissa Explains It All, Clarissa says that she likes John Linnell and a bit of "Ana Ng" plays. A picture of TMBG from the "(She Was A) Hotel Detective" video follows.
  • The song appeared briefly in the film Yes Man in the background at the Harry Potter party while the characters discuss the exclusivity of owning a "Costco" card.
  • The chorus of the song is creatively interpolated into "Cute Thing" on the 2011 album Twin Fantasy (Mirror to Mirror) by the band Car Seat Headrest: "I accidentally spoke his first name aloud / Trying to make it fit in with the lyrics of 'Ana Ng' / Worked like a charm / We're getting old / When will we walk in each other's majestic presence? / Listen, hear my words / They're the ones you would think I would say if I was John Linnell / Or trying to be John Linnell."

Song Themes

1964 World's Fair, Age, Backwards, Cities, Everything, Fade Out, Geography, In Back, Loneliness, Love, Numbers, Onomatopoeia, Oxymorons, Paradoxes, And Contradictory Statements, People (Imaginary), Places (Real), Non-John Vocals, Questions, Real Estate, Recursion, References To Other Songs Or Musicians, Size, Spoken Word, Telecommunication, Temperature, This Town, Trade Names, Transportation, Upside Down, Water, Weapons, Weather, Writing


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Current Rating

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Ana Ng is currently ranked #2 out of 1008. (589 wikians have given it an average rating of 9.44)