Meet James Ensor

From This Might Be A Wiki
Self-portrait on a Belgian poststamp (from Wikipedia)

song name Meet James Ensor
artist They Might Be Giants
releases John Henry, Dial-A-Song: 20 Years Of They Might Be Giants, A User's Guide to They Might Be Giants: Melody, Fidelity, Quantity, TMBG Clock Radio, John Henry + Factory Showroom
year 1994
first played June 13, 1993 (318 known performances)
run time 1:33
sung by John Flansburgh, John Linnell harmonizes


In my art history class, while in college, we were bored and all of a sudden [Ensor's] works came up and we were surprised at how exciting it was. He was an expressionist, like other 20th century expressionist painters, who was ahead of his time and was very eccentric. The line "Dig him up and shake his hand" is actually very specific - a parallel idea to a lot of his paintings which involve resurrections, skeletons and puppets being animated. It's not an accident that the language of the song reflects his work. He did a painting - titled something like "Self Portrait in 1970". It's a skeleton, wearing his clothes. He became a phenomenon right before the turn of the century. With the song, I'm trying to encapsulate the issues of his life - an eccentric guy who became celebrated and was soon left behind as his ideas were taken into the culture and other people became expressionists.
  • Meet James Ensor at Wikipedia.
  • In some performances of this song, the Johns vocalize the guitar solo.

Song Themes

Body Parts, Death, Drink, Educational, Eyes, Forgetting And Remembering, Friendship, Hands, Loneliness, Misanthropy, People (Real), Relatives, Religion, Windows


Current Rating

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Meet James Ensor is currently ranked #316 out of 1009. (148 wikians have given it an average rating of 8.57)