Dinner Bell

From This Might Be A Wiki
Ivan Pavlov, who rang the dinner bell

song name Dinner Bell
artist They Might Be Giants
releases Apollo 18, Flood + Apollo 18
year 1992
first played July 31, 1992 (55 known performances)
run time 2:11
sung by John Linnell; John Flansburgh sings backup at the end


  • "Through the miracle of multi-tracking the big big vocal sound of Dinner Bell was achieved. Linnell did the fancy barbershop stuff, and I came in for the counterpoint voice near the end." - John Flansburgh
  • The odd vocal listing body parts ("shoulder, bicep, elbow, arm", etc.) was generated using a complicated process: Linnell listened to a tape of the words being played backwards, which he then attempted to imitate. For example, "elbow" backwards sounds something like "wuh-bleh." The tape of Linnell's backwards imitations was then itself reversed, creating the unusual-sounding words heard in the song. You can hear what Linnell actually sang here.
  • From the tmbg.com FAQ archive: "The song does indirectly refer to Pavlov's famous experiment involving a dog's reaction to the ringing of a bell after associating the sound with food." - John Linnell
  • Covered by a cappella group The Bobs on their album Rhapsody in Bob (2005). The Bobs did not use the reversed speech trick for the bridge, which makes it much easier to understand than the original. The Bobs have also covered "Particle Man".
  • Covered by Satellite High on their album Sing Along With Satellite High (2011).

Song Themes

Addiction, Compulsion, Animals, Backwards, Bells, Body Parts, Clothes, Drinking, Educational, Food, Hands, Not In Major Or Minor, Onomatopoeia, Science, Swing Feel, Temperature


Current Rating

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Dinner Bell is currently ranked #70 out of 1009. (234 wikians have given it an average rating of 9.03)