Sally Boy Candy Bar

From This Might Be A Wiki

song name Sally Boy Candy Bar
artist They Might Be Giants
releases 1983 Demo Tape, Dial-A-Song, TMBG Unlimited - July, (2000-2006), TMBG Clock Radio, Podcast 32A
year 1983
first played July 7, 1983 (3 known performances)
run time 2:28
sung by John Flansburgh


  • Recorded in 1983 for They Might Be Giants' first demo tape.
  • John Flansburgh explained the song's lyrics in a 2023 Tumblr post, and suggested that John Linnell wrote them:
It's definitely a word salad. Like a lot of people, when we first moved to New York, discovering Asian businesses with wild combinations of English words was very startling. Sally Boy Candy Bar was just a shop in Chinatown, but obviously it’s a much more loaded set of words for English speakers. John’s lyric just carries on with the jumbling of more familiar phrases.
  • When asked in 2011 about the song's meaning, Flansburgh stated: "It's about language... I think."[1]
  • Flansburgh has expressed regret that this song never made it onto a studio album, and was rarely played live: "While some songs stuck, there were a lot of songs that just floated in and out of the show from ‘83 to ‘87. [The song] was not the easiest song to play in some ways – very manic and screamy – and we might have been nervous that it didn’t scan so well to audiences. I love the song. I really don’t know what happened."[2]
  • Flansburgh described the recording process for the song in a 2013 Tumblr post:
Sally Boy Candy Bar was assembled the way a lot of our early tracks were — recorded on a TEAC 4 track [with] probably three individual tracks of drums played individually (thumb on a mic as a kick, or the moog as kick, real hi hat or a moog hat) and a real snare played by John L. in that case. We had bongos and they came into the mix a lot. Everything was then bounced down to one track, and then we added bass and possibly an additional synth sound.
  • The first two lines echo the first two of "Boys," a 1960 pop song originally recorded by The Shirelles and later by The Beatles: "I've been told when a boy kiss a girl, take a trip around the world."
  • The line "I've been told when a fish needs a bike" refers to the feminist adage "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle," originally said by Australian writer and activist Irina Dunn.
  • "Circle gets the square" is a reference to the tic-tac-toe based game show Hollywood Squares. When the "O" contestant answered a question correctly, the host of the show would say "Circle gets the square!" A 1987 interview with the band claims that they played their first live show under the name "Circle Gets The Square," though this one interview is the only time that detail has ever been mentioned.

Song Themes

Animals, Clothes, Food, Gender Issues, Heads, Puns, References To Other Songs Or Musicians, Shapes, Traded Tracks, Transportation


Current Rating

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Sally Boy Candy Bar is currently ranked #95 out of 1009. (71 wikians have given it an average rating of 8.97)