AVC: We had a brief email exchange yesterday about the hugely positive reaction to your A.V. Undercover performance. You said, “It seems like a little bit of joy directly expressed can be quite resonant in this grey world.” In spite of all the songs you do about death and disaster and misery, that sounds like a TMBG mission statement.
JF: Yeah, that’s what art is, right? If you think about it, life is a one-way ticket. [Laughs.] But while we’re here, you got to make the most of it. Now I sound like the guy at the end of the bar. The “Tubthumping” thing is especially weird, because it’s a song you almost can’t like with your conscious mind. It’s all those things about a popular song that are kind of manipulative—or, not manipulative, they overwhelm you. It’s such a hooky song, it goes from hook to hook to hook. It’s such an earworm kind of a song. It’s like the Steven Spielberg of songs. You just feel like you’ve been lassoed and dragged into its presence. It’s overwhelming.
AVC: Is anything wrong with that?
JF: Well, if you like being lassoed. No, I don’t know. Did you walk out of E.T. feeling like, “That was normal”? Or did you feel like you were kind of… I feel like I have a love-hate relationship with the hooky, the impossible catchy song. I feel like the world has a love-hate relationship with that kind of thing. Because it’s relentless. I’ve been singing the song “The Longest Time” by Billy Joel for 20 years. And I don’t even particularly care for Billy Joel’s music. A good friend of mine is a huge Billy Joel fan. I love Elton John, but as far as those classic popmeisters go, I find Billy Joel very hard. I want my mind back from that. [Starts singing melody to “The Longest Time.”] I cannot tell you. Three times a day, I think about that song. It drives me crazy.- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Beyond excited to see They Might Be Giants tonight.