Careful What You Pack

From This Might Be A Wiki

song name Careful What You Pack
artist They Might Be Giants
releases Radio Sampler '07, The Else, Idlewild
year 2007
first played April 26, 2006 (108 known performances)
run time 2:40
sung by John Flansburgh


  • This song was originally written for the soundtrack to the movie Coraline but was not used.[1] Afterwards, TMBG managed to "reacquire it" for The Else.
  • When played live, all the stage lights were traditionally turned off, and The Audience was requested to use their cell phones to shed light on the band.
  • The performance on May 13, 2006 (link below) contained minor lyrical differences, presumably because the song was still a work in progress. These changes are:
    • "Digging underground" instead of "Digging all around"
    • "Lost in her exploring / it's a new year" instead of "Lost from the beginning / she's the new girl."
    • "Who is watching her" instead of "someone's watching her"
  • The line "The known, the unknown, and the underknown" refers to a 2002 statement from former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld regarding evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. In 2020, Flansburgh stated:[2]
The song was written for the opening of the Coraline film, so "fear of the unknown" was all through the action in the script, and as the Rumsfeld expression was current and so mind-boggling it was inviting to do something that echoed it. (Side bar--although I find Rumsfeld essentially a high-functioning grifter, his expression is getting at something that is worthy of exploration--especially in global politics)

Song Themes

Animals, Insects, Time, Trees And Other Plants


Current Rating

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Careful What You Pack is currently ranked #108 out of 1009. (133 wikians have given it an average rating of 8.95)