The Biggest One

From This Might Be A Wiki

song name The Biggest One
artist They Might Be Giants
releases (She Was A) Hotel Detective (EP), Don't Let's Start (Album), Miscellaneous T, Then: The Earlier Years
year 1988
first played March 1, 1985 (2 known performances)
run time 1:22
sung by John Flansburgh


  • The liner notes of Then: The Earlier Years describe the song as "an unlikely song of self-pity." According to Kurt Hoffman, John Flansburgh wrote the song about a 1983 burglary in which almost all of his possessions were stolen.[1] Flansburgh had moved to a new apartment in Bed-Stuy, and was thoroughly burglarized the same day he moved in. This theft also inspired the band to start Dial-A-Song.
  • John Flansburgh discussed the recording techniques used on this song in a 2023 Tumblr post:
That track was one of the first tracks we finished at Dubway with Al Houghton, and it was a big transitional moment in terms of how we tracked stuff. We did some limited “self-sampling” on Al’s very new Akai sampler—including sampling the marching band bass drum that I used in the show (that was also later on "Whistling In The Dark") and I SUSPECT there is an accordion sample as a chord pad, as well as a live accordion doing the lines there. I do have a track sheet somewhere, but listening those are my best guesses. The very real sounding drumsticks are actually programmed. The guitar is real but seems gated which makes it sound kind of impossible. It’s a very curious set of sounds!
  • Doc's Sugar Bowl was a restaurant located at 441 Metropolitan Ave in Brooklyn, NY.[2] John Flansburgh described it in a 2006 interview:
When I moved here twenty-two years ago the only restaurants were breakfast places for guys loading trucks at the beef slaughterhouses on North 6th and the few remaining heavy industries. My favorite was a truck stop called Doc’s Sugar Bowl, which was only open 4 am to 10 am. I don’t think there was a way to get a cup of coffee in the neighborhood after 10 am on this side of the BQE.
  • The second verse borrows lyrics from Gloria Gaynor's late-70's disco hit, "I Will Survive" — "I should've changed that stupid lock / Or made you leave your key" and "Oh no, not I, I will survive."

Song Themes

Coffee, Drinks, Numbers, References To Other Songs Or Musicians, The Senses, Size, Temperature, Water


Current Rating

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The Biggest One is currently ranked #639 out of 1012. (61 wikians have given it an average rating of 7.91)