Snowball In Hell

From This Might Be A Wiki
How to Master Time Organization cassette cover

song name Snowball in Hell
artist They Might Be Giants
releases Lincoln, Ana Ng (Single), Then: The Earlier Years, Dial-A-Song: 20 Years Of They Might Be Giants
year 1988
first played November 12, 1986 (33 known performances)
run time 2:31
sung by John Flansburgh, John Linnell sings back-up


  • The dialogue during the bridge comes from the 1977 cassette re-release of a 1961 LP titled How to Master Time Organization by Paul J. Meyer. Bill Krauss bought the tape at a flea market for 25 cents and gave to John Flansburgh for his birthday. Flansburgh, from the Early Years Handbook/Throttle Magazine, August 1990:
"It's a how-to-organize-yourself, self-help cassette, and it's pretty odd. That whole thing is part of a 'How to Get Your Shit Together' skit. It's a really silly tape. It really has no useful tips as to how to be more organized. [...] We probably [needed] to get permission [for sampling it], but we didn't. We've been very bad about getting permission on sampled things. I hope we don't get sued."
From Myke Weiskopf's 1994 interview with Bill Krauss:
It's a dub off of something I gave Flansburgh for his birthday in 1985. I bought it at a bookstore in my hometown in New Jersey, and it's from a tape from some kind of series on how to manage your time effectively. I saw it on a rack with a bunch of tapes on how to make the most money in your life, how to relax.. It was just a bunch of 'how-to' cassette tapes. I was just flipping through them, and Flansburgh's birthday was coming up; I came across 'How To Manage Your Time Effectively', and I thought, 'Flansburgh will find a way to use this.' And so I gave it to him for his birthday. And we ended up putting it in 'Snowball'.
  • The sample as found in the song contains an edit. Joe Anderson's full line is "I get it Paul, you've got the needle out, and back on that old 'time is money' kick, right?" (This is presumably an allusion to the common saying "a stitch in time saves nine.") The unedited sample appears as an intro to the song in some early live performances. Additionally, Joe saying "Okay, okay" was used in the demo version of the song.
  • This song was played during the end credits of the film Haiku Tunnel. It was also used in the trailer. Josh Kornbluth, lead actor/director/writer of the film, appeared in Gigantic.
  • "If it wasn't for disappointment, I wouldn't have any appointments" is a play on the line "If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all", which appears in a number of blues songs, including Lightnin' Slim's "Bad Luck Blues" (1954) and Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign" (1967).
  • According to the May 4, 2015 article in SPIN by Dan Weiss, John Flansburgh said that this song "was written so fast that I couldn’t find the original piece of paper that the song was actually written on. I actually found it a couple years later and it has completely different words that are slightly better." This interview at the 23:52 mark also confirms this story, though in this case Flansburgh declines to name the song.

Song Themes

Aversion To Work, Bad English, Coffee, Drugs, Food, Jail And Imprisonment, Money, Nonsense Words, Numbers, Oblique Cliches Or Idiom, Occupations, Oxymorons, Paradoxes, And Contradictory Statements, Problems with Liner Notes, Puns, Questions, Religion, Songs With Samples, Time, Trade Names, Yes


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Snowball In Hell is currently ranked #28 out of 1009. (207 wikians have given it an average rating of 9.17)