The Mesopotamians

From This Might Be A Wiki
Music video for "The Mesopotamians"
"The Mesopotamians" design, t-shirt back
Second t-shirt, front

song name The Mesopotamians
artist They Might Be Giants
releases The Else, Podcast 28B, They Might Be Highlights From The Else, Them Ain't Big Eye Ants, Idlewild, 50,000,000 They Might Be Giants Songs Can't Be Wrong
year 2007
first played May 3, 2007 (491 known performances)
run time 2:57
sung by John Linnell


  • Sargon, Hammurabi, Ashurbanipal, and Gilgamesh are all famous Mesopotamians. A Mohenjo-daren is someone from Mohenjo-daro, a city belonging to an ancient civilization in modern-day Pakistan that was contemporaneous with Bronze Age Mesopotamia.
  • This song originally existed as a demo produced with the intention of release alongside a picture book for children, much like Bed, Bed, Bed and Kids Go!. However, the project never came together, so Linnell modified the lyrics and the song was recorded instead for The Else.
  • Much like "The Mesopotamians", TMBG toured during the Lincoln and Flood era in two white Ford Econoline vans, dubbed "Milli" and "Vanilli" by TMBG.
  • Sargon plays guitar left-handed, just like Flansy.
  • The bridge lyrics "I thought that you were dead, I thought you crashed your car / No, man, I've been right here this whole time playing bass guitar" may refer to the rumor that Paul McCartney, bass guitarist of The Beatles, had died in a car accident in 1966 and was secretly replaced in the Beatles by a look-alike, believed to have been named William Sheppard.
  • A t-shirt featuring the four characters from this song was added to the TMBG Merchandise Store on July 10, 2007, to coincide with The Else's CD release.
  • A short animated teaser for the Mesopotamians video featuring the characters from the t-shirt, entitled "Mesopotamians Now", was posted on YouTube and on July 30, 2007. The clip uses dialog sampled from the 1979 film Apocalypse Now. A follow-up video entitled "After the Audition" was posted to on August 24, which sampled dialog from The Monkees TV series episode "Find The Monkees (The Audition)", which first aired in 1967. The music video, directed by David Cowles and animated by Chris Timmons, was released on October 2 on Cowles had previously met Timmons via them working on a dropped pilot for Playhouse Disney in 2006.
  • In an interview with Spin, contrasting it with songs like I'm Impressed and The Shadow Government which were written at least partially as a response to the George W. Bush administration and the Iraq War, John Linnell said, "Weirdly, 'The Mesopotamians,' which is a happy song, is specifically about Iraq but in a completely background, working around way. It was very of the time."
  • In a 2013 interview, Linnell admitted to the song's resemblance to the Philip Roth novel The Great American Novel, "which is about a mythical baseball league with players named things like Gil Gamesh."
  • They Might Be Giants performed this song on Late Night with Conan O'Brien in 2009, one week before the show's final episode. This was the last of over a dozen TMBG appearances on the show, before Conan's move to Los Angeles to host shows based there.
  • Hammurabi was considered to be featured on a monster calendar (which later evolved into The Escape Team) for the 2018 Instant Fan Club, but he was ultimately not chosen. He was depicted riding on top of the Econoline van, just like in the music video, and was referred to as "Hum", a combination of his name and Hummer, a defunct brand of pickup trucks and SUVs.[1]
  • According to the October 27, 2021 episode of This Might Be a Podcast, which featured Cowles, he was assigned to direct the video shortly after being reassigned from "Zeroes". He was specifically instructed to make the video look messy, keeping as much of the aspects from the rough lines and sketches as he could, and took inspiration for the characters' designs from a children's picture book about Mesopotamia at a library.

Song Themes

Accidents, Death, Food, Hair, History, Music, People (Real), Swear Words, This Town, Trade Names, Transportation


  • Watch it on Youtube.png - The Mesopotamians official music video
  • Watch it on Youtube.png - Live performance on Late Night with Craig Ferguson.
  • Watch it on Youtube.png - TMBGs last East coast performance on Conan O'Brien
  • Watch it on Youtube.png - The Mesopotamians teaser: "Mesopotamians Now"
  • Watch it on Youtube.png - The Mesopotamians teaser: "After the Audition"

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The Mesopotamians is currently ranked #104 out of 1009. (229 wikians have given it an average rating of 8.96)