Kiss Me, Son Of God

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"Kiss Me, Son Of God" live on Night Network, 1989.

song name Kiss Me, Son of God
artist They Might Be Giants
releases Lincoln, They'll Need A Crane (EP) [UK Release], Then: The Earlier Years, Selections From Then
year 1988
first played March 4, 1987 (81 known performances)
run time 1:54
sung by John Linnell; John Flansburgh harmonizes


Trivia/Info

  • John Linnell on the song's meaning in a 1989 interview[1]: "The role model is the singer of a fairly unknown New York band who acts like an egocentric superstar."
  • John Flansburgh in a 1988 interview:[2]

When Linnell first played me "Kiss Me, Son of God" my jaw just hit the floor. I was almost afraid to play the song publicly, because I was just thinking, "This is not going to be accepted." To be standing on stage singing "You love me, and I love me" just strikes me as a scary moment.

  • The studio recording features the multi-instrumental talents of The Ordinaires, while in live performances, the song is played only with accordion instead of stringed instruments, showcasing a duo-style arrangement faithful to the single version. John Flansburgh explained the differences between the single and album versions of the song in a 1990 interview with Throttle Magazine:
The single version is the way we've always done it live. The one on the record was an experiment. Fritz Van Orden of the Ordinaires did the arrangement of the strings and brass. It doesn't sound exactly like what we do. It has that 30's proto-swing band sound to it. I like the way it came out. The hardest part for me was that the chords and the bridge got changed, so I had to change my harmony part which was already on the Andrew Sisters side of difficulty.
  • On April 17, 1987, a network television performance of this song on Kansas City, Missouri CBS affiliate KCTV was cut short. At a show later that year, Flansburgh explained, "Right after the line 'I look like Jesus', they pulled us off the air. We are still waiting for a written explanation and apology." The band's manager Jamie Kitman told the story in his 1988 essay, Our Roadies, Ourselves:

The band certainly has considered religious themes, as evidenced by John Linnell's solo accordion number, "Kiss Me, Son of God." A stinging indictment of organized religion, it was, in fact, the exact number [he] was crooning for [KCTV anchor Lili Bliss] and the audience at home when the folks at the studio control board panicked and pulled the plug.

"I built a little empire out of some crazy garbage called the blood of the exploited working class," [Linnell] had begun to sing, while [Flansburgh] smiled and snapped out an uptempo beat. "Now they've overcome their shyness, and they're calling me 'Your Highness,' and the world screams, 'Kiss me, Son of God.' "

Poor Lilly [sic]. Her evanescent smile had completely disappeared. Her hard-boiled co-anchor, a crusty old news guy straight from central casting, fell out of his chair laughing. Linnell continued: "I look like Jesus, so they say..." [..] as the monitor in the Green Room went blank.

Song Themes

Egoism And Pretentiousness, Friendship, Gleeful Irreverence, Love, Religion, Size, Titles And Honorifics, Yes

Videos

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