Whistling In The Dark

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song name Whistling in the Dark
artist They Might Be Giants
releases Flood, Flood + Apollo 18
year 1990
first played November 25, 1989 (430 known performances)
run time 3:25
sung by John Linnell, John Flansburgh harmonizes


  • During some live performances, John Flansburgh discards his guitar (often during the accordion solo of the previous song, "Hearing Aid") and picks up a large chest-mounted bass drum, which he strikes zealously through the song.
  • "The bass drum sound was something we actually worked on for quite a while in the studio and we weren't so happy with it even in the end — but I think in our imaginations even an atomic blast would have been too small. We actually recorded it and possibly sampled it so we could retrigger the biggest sound." - John Flansburgh in a 2009 Rolling Stone interview
  • Linnell commented in a 2009 Rolling Stone interview, "I thought it would be funny if there were two guys who have a seemingly brief, hostile interaction and the camera pulls back and they're in jail together. Bear in mind, if you insist on interpreting the words to this peculiar song, that the narrator is comfortable and capable in the role of being what he's like. However, as the wise men say, an 'is' is not an 'ought.'"

Song Themes

Accents, Criminal Activities, Different When Played Live, Fade Out, Heads, Jail And Imprisonment, Mind Control, Hypnotism, Not In Common Time, Oblique Cliches Or Idiom, Oxymorons, Paradoxes, And Contradictory Statements, Poison, Problems With Liner Notes, Recursion, Violence, Writing


Current Rating

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Whistling In The Dark is currently ranked #231 out of 1010. (139 wikians have given it an average rating of 8.71)