Thommy Ford Reads

A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library

Thommy Ford’s Playlist—Track #3: “Everything Right is Wrong Again”

Welcome to our new series highlighting the music we have here at Thomas Ford Memorial Library. Each week of 2013 we will discuss one of our favorite songs from the collection. Classical or Country, Hip-Hop or Heavy Metal, we’ll be blogging for every taste.

“Everything Right is Wrong Again”
by They Might Be Giants

“Everything Right is Wrong Again” is track #1 on They Might Be Giants’ eponymous first album

My favorite They Might Be Giants songs are simply the catchiest ones. “Everything Right is Wrong Again” certainly fits that bill. It’s two minutes and twenty seconds of drum machine and wonderful 80’s synth work—seriously, the synth-harpsichord solo that closes out the song is pure genius—and it’s all accompanied by twisty melodies and harmonies that will burrow into your brain.

But there is something else going on here that I love too. The lyrics verge on being complete nonsense, or at best just a random smattering of pop culture references. Yet somehow they manage to suggest something coherent to me, but maybe only me.

Here’s the first chorus:

Everything right is wrong again
Just like in the long long trailer
All the dishes got broken and the car kept driving
And nobody would stop to save her

Awesome, I actually get this reference. It’s about Lucy and Desi’s The Long Long Trailer. The image of the trailer coming lose from the car and everything falling out of the cupboards pretty poignantly suggests the topsy-turvy theme TMBG is going for here.

After that things get fuzzier, though more fun in a conspiracy theory sort of way. For example, am I supposed to hear “We Shall Overcome” when they sing the second chorus?

You’re a weasel overcome with dinge
Weasel overcome but not before the damage done
The healing can’t stop the feeling
Everything right is wrong again

Wasn’t “dinge” a racial slur at about the same time “We Shall Overcome” was the civil rights anthem of choice? Hmmm, maybe this whole “right is wrong again” thing is deeper than I thought. Maybe it’s really a critique of our linear notion of social progress.

Oh sure, I’m probably reading way too much into this, right? But doesn’t the first reference to a sunny 1950’s comedy sort of set the scene for a reference to the civil rights era? Plus, next TMBG circularly sing the phrase “And now the song is over now and now the song is over now”—right in the middle of the song. What song are they referring to? It can’t be the song I’m listening to, because that song is clearly not over now.  Aha! Proof that they were singing about some song that’s not this song. And the chief suspect? You guessed it: “We Shall Overcome.”

Oh nevermind, in retrospect it all sounds too goofy. They were probably literally referring to weasels that are overcome with dinge. That must be it. Silly me. But still, it’s a song that sounds sweet and simple on the surface, yet has me second guessing everything when I try to think about it. Which turns out to be sort of what the song is about, right? Well, probably not.

Review by Matthew

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