Hell Hotel

From This Might Be A Wiki

song name Hell Hotel
artist They Might Be Giants
releases Dial-A-Song, 1985 Promotional Demo Tape #6, 1985 Demo Tape, Bill Krauss Demos
year 1985
first played July 7, 1983 (3 known performances)
run time 1:54
sung by John Flansburgh; John Linnell backing


  • The Early Years FAQ quotes Bill Krauss as saying, "I think Flans said that the song was based on a Twilight Zone episode, but I can't remember which one. 'Sebastian C.' is Sebastian Cabot, who you may remember as the butler on the 60's sitcom 'Family Affair.'"[1] The Twilight Zone episode being referred to is "A Nice Place to Visit", which first aired in 1960.
  • In 2017, Flansburgh explained the origins of the song: "For many years in New England and NYC there would often be Twilight Zone marathons on Halloween or New Years, and I would like to cloister myself with a tape recorder and use those marathon nights to work on music in my own marathon kind of way-–and let Rod Serling and crew be my silent companion. I can't be positive but I am pretty sure the genesis of the song is from one of those nights. As for my love of the series-–there are so many great episodes I can't say I have one favorite. I just enjoy the vibe of the series."[2]
  • Media wiki TV Tropes uses "Hell Hotel" as the name of a trope. The page notes that the title "is from an obscure They Might Be Giants song. Like, obscure even for them."[3]
  • When asked on Twitter why the song never appeared on official releases, Flans said: "I think we liked the way the demo worked but it was hard to update. That's our pal Jonathan Gregg playing the awesome guitar part. Might be the only guitar "guest" on any early track..." [4]
  • According to John Flansburgh, the band may have stopped performing this song around 1985.[5]

Song Themes

Falsetto, Hotels, Questions, Relatives, Religion, Supernatural, Robots, Screaming, Self-Reference


Current Rating

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Hell Hotel is currently ranked #112 out of 1013. (67 wikians have given it an average rating of 8.93)