Serenading Science In A New Rock Album In Here Comes Science, They Might Be Giants tackles the scientific process, plasma physics, the role of blood in the body and the importance of DNA, all in song. Band members John Linnell and John Flansburgh discuss the album and play some science tunes.

Serenading Science In A New Rock Album

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For the rest of the hour, science in song. Joining us now is the band They Might Be Giants. Their new album, "Here Comes the Sun," is just out - "Here Comes Science," I'm sorry. That's a different song. "Here Comes Science" is just out, and here's a cut from the CD.

(Soundbite of song, "Science is Real")

THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS (Music Group): (Singing) Science is real, from the Big Bang to DNA. Science is real, from evolution to the Milky Way. I like the stories about angels, unicorns and elves. I like the stories as much as anybody else, but when I'm seeking knowledge, either simple or abstract, the facts are with science, the facts are with science.

Science is real. Science is real. Science is real. Science is real, from anatomy to treeology(ph). Science is real, from astrophysics to biology. A scientific theory isn't just a hunch or guess. It's more like a question that's been put to the test. When a theory emerges consistent with the facts, the proof is with science, the truth is with science. Science is real. Science is real. Science is real. Science is real.

FLATOW: We sure hope so because you're listening to SCIENCE FRIDAY, and that was "Science is Real" by the band They Might Be Giants. And joining me now in the studio here in New York is John Linnell and John Flansburgh, also on the drums, Mark Bell(ph) in the background.

They're playing a lot of music. Welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY.

Mr. JOHN LINNELL (They Might Be Giants): Thank you.

Mr. JOHN FLANSBURGH (They Might Be Giants): It's very exciting to be here.

FLATOW: Why would you do songs about science? I mean, I thought only geeks like me like science.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: 'Cause we're like you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: Are you? Do you…

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Well, we love - you know, this is really a big thrill for us because, you know, we've been listening to the show for a long time. It's, like, suddenly, like, we're inside the TV set or the radio. It's very - it's kind of trippy.

FLATOW: Were you sciency geeks when you were in school?

Mr. LINNELL: Not exactly, no. I mean, it's actually a little bit of a stretch in a way to declare ourselves to be authorities on science.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: This is the Peter principle in full bloom.

Mr. LINNELL: Exactly, yeah, yeah.

FLATOW: And you're stepping into a little quagmire by naming a song "Science is Real." There are a lot of people who don't believe science.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Well, you see, that's not controversial for us.

FLATOW: Not for you?


FLATOW: But have you heard any reaction from people who say, well…

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Well, you know, I don't think, judging by YouTube flame comments you can really get an accurate gauge of what the - in general, it seems like people are actually quite positive about the whole prospect, but…

Mr. LINNELL: People we meet face to face are like you pretty much.

FLATOW: Well, that's a…

Mr. LINNELL: Yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: 1-800-989-8255. We're going to try to play as many of the songs as we can…

Mr. LINNELL: Thanks, man.

FLATOW: …in the half hour we have to talk to you. And there are some really interesting songs. Name the songs on the album so that…

Mr. LINNELL: Well, "Meet the Elements," "Photosynthesis," "My Brother the Ape," "I'm a Paleontologist," "Roy G. Biv," which is about the color spectrum, light spectrum, and I don't know, John, what else are the songs?

Mr. FLANSBURGH: "Cells."

Mr. LINNELL: "Cells."

Mr. FLANSBURGH: "Why Does the Sun Shine?"

Mr. LINNELL: Yup, "Why Does the Sun Shine?"


Mr. FLANSBURGH: "Speed and Velocity."

FLATOW: And now, these all sound like kid songs. Are these aimed at kids? Did you do it (unintelligible)?

Mr. LINNELL: Well, there - it's kind of a - it's sort of a mixed bag. There are some songs that are very simple that are kind of - that are good for little kids.

FLATOW: Right.

Mr. LINNELL: And then there are songs that are more of fact packed that probably would, you know, be a little bit too complicated for a toddler. But, you know, if you're - I mean, the song we're going to play depends…

FLATOW: Let's play now.

Mr. LINNELL: The song "Meet the Elements," like, if this existed in my freshman year of high school, it would have been an incredible godsend for my grades.

FLATOW: Well, you know, meet - when I hear a song "Meet the Elements, who am I thinking of? Not of you, guys. Before - way before you guys are born, Tom Lehrer, right?

Mr. LINNELL: Uh-huh.

FLATOW: Do you remember "The Elements" song? Remember Tom Lehrer?

Mr. FLANSBURGH: No. Actually…

Mr. LINNELL: I know the song "Pollution" by Tom Lehrer.

FLATOW: No, he did a whole song of "The Elements" but much different than yours.

Mr. LINNELL: Probably more satirical than ours.

FLATOW: Yeah. Well…

Mr. LINNELL: I can't believe that guy, like, invented the time machine and went backwards and stole our ideas.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: Yeah. Well…

Mr. LINNELL: No. I don't know - I am not familiar about that song.

FLATOW: Right. But right - he just go rattles through the table of - periodic table (unintelligible).

Mr. LINNELL: Well, that's kind of what we're doing.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: That's what we're doing, yeah. Yeah.

FLATOW: Wait, what made you…

Mr. LINNELL: Imagine our disappointment that we find out…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. LINNELL: Yeah. But you know what they did, if that's…

FLATOW: He was a folk singer.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: No, no, no.

FLATOW: What made you to write this song? Tell us a little bit about the genesis of this song.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Well, we were working on our science album and I guess the thing is we wanted it to cover all of the different areas of science. So we're thinking chemistry, biology, physics, earth science, applied science. You know, we're just trying stepping into each one. And I find the periodic table of the elements to be kind of a great organizational - you know, an amazing inspiration, actually, that somebody…

FLATOW: Do you?

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Yeah. That it's a grid. You can just look at it and, oh, it's all laid out simply. It's like a lot simpler than a lot of the other science charts that you have to study. So this one seem like it was, you know, it was something you could stare at and write a song based on.

FLATOW: Yeah. All right. Well, you know, it's good that you said it because I proves you're a bigger geek than I am and…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FLANSBURGH: That doesn't prove that. Okay.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: We're going to just remind everybody that I'm Ira Flatow and this is SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR News.

And we're going to hear a cut from the album. Here they are, They Might be Giants playing…

Mr. LINNELL: "Meet the Elements."

FLATOW: …"Meet the Elements." Let's meet them now.

(Soundbite of song, "Meet the Elements")

THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS (Musical Group): (Singing) Iron is a metal, you see it every day. Oxygen, eventually, will make it rust away. Carbon in its ordinary form is coal. Crush it together, and diamonds are born.

Come on, come on and meet the elements. May I introduce you to our friends, the elements? Like a box of paints that are mixed to make every shade. They either combine to make a chemical compound or stand alone as they are.

Neon's a gas that lights up the sign for a pizza place. The coins that you pay with are copper, nickel, and zinc. Silicon and oxygen make concrete bricks and glass. Now add some gold and silver for some pizza place class.

Come on, come on and meet the elements. I think you should check out the ones they call the elements. Like a box of paints that are mixed to make every shade. They either combine to make a chemical compound or stand alone as they are.

Team up with other elements forming compounds when they combine. Or make up a simple element formed out of atoms of the one kind. Balloons are full of helium, and so is every star. Stars are mostly hydrogen, which may someday drive your car.

Hey, who let in all these elephants? Don't you know that elephants are made of elements? Elephants are mostly made of four elements. And every living thing is mostly made of four elements. Plants, bugs, trees, worms, bacteria and men are mostly carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen.

Come on, come on and meet the elements. You and I are complicated, but we're made of elements. Like a box of paints that are mixed to make every shade. They either combine to make a chemical compound or stand alone as they are.

Team up with other elements forming compounds when they combine. Or make up a simple element formed out of atoms of the one kind.

Come on, come on and meet the elements. Check out the ones they call the elements. Like a box of paints that are mixed to make every shade. They either combine to make a chemical compound or stand alone as they are.

FLATOW: Wow, that was great.

Mr. LINNELL: Thank you.

FLATOW: It was nothing like, you know…

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: That was much better.

(Soundbite of laughter)


FLATOW: That's great.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Actually, we haven't heard the Tom Lehrer.


Mr. FLANSBURGH: So I can't possibly comment.

FLATOW: (Unintelligible) - this was just terrific. How long do you think you write that song?


FLATOW: Months, years, decades, lifetime?

Mr. LINNELL: That's a secret. I can't…


Mr. LINNELL: Because then people are going to - if we do work - if we do like some kind of theme for something, they're going to want to pay us less…


Mr. FLANSBURGH: …if you reveal how quickly you can write a song.

FLATOW: Well, just to remind our audience, we're talking with the band They Might Giants. And their new album is "Here Comes Science." Is it out now, iTunes or…

Mr. LINNELL: As of yesterday, it is out everywhere.

FLATOW: Really?

Mr. LINNELL: You can buy at a Target.


Mr. LINNELL: Yeah.

FLATOW: And you can download…

Mr. LINNELL: Right next to Miley Cyrus.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: Well, we're going to come back and talk once more with John Flansburgh and John Linnell of the band They Might Be Giants. Their new album available everywhere now, "Here Comes Science."

Take a short break. Our number: 1-800-989-8255. A lot of folks want to talk. Let's see if we have some time for questions. But we want to get as much music in as possible. So I'll stop the yakking, they'll start the playing when we get back. So stay with us. We'll be right back.

(Soundbite of music)

FLATOW: I'm Ira Flatow. This is SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR News.

(Soundbite of credits)

You're listening to SCIENCE FRIDAY at NPR News. I'm Ira Flatow, sitting in - I wish - I used to play the accordion.

Mr. LINNELL: Man, start jamming.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. LINNELL: Feel free.

FLATOW: With the band They Might Be Giants. And their new album is out, just out yesterday, "Here Comes Science," with John Flansburgh and John Linnell. Also, they're playing the music for us, not to be outdone, is Marty Beller is here with the drums.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: The king of the drums.

FLATOW: The king of percussion.

Mr. LINNELL: Marty is actually playing an electronic drum kit, which is brand new. It's a brand new thing. And…

FLATOW: Yeah. That explains why I try to go over and it - you know, use my fingers and (unintelligible)…

Mr. LINNELL: Oh, yeah.

FLATOW: …and nothing happens.

Mr. LINNELL: Yeah.

FLATOW: It's electronic.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: You need the magic of electricity.

FLATOW: What an (unintelligible). And I'm surrounded by, I guess, I'd call them music geeks, music science geeks, because they're writing albums about science. And what's next on - we'd love to hear from you?

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Well, this has a little story behind it. We used to cover a science song - in fact, we still do - called "Why Does The Sun Shine," which is from a bunch of science - the question of science songs that came out when we were kids with Tom Glazer - and I don't know if you're familiar with this record. But the song was called "Why Does the Sun Shine" and in parenthesis, "The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas." And I - what we found out was that it - subsequently, I figured out that the sun is not actually made of gas after the song become popular among kids and…

FLATOW: Sure, it is.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Well, apparently, it's not.

FLATOW: I got better - I better relearn something else.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: We're here to tell you that…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FLANSBURGH: …that there are four states of matter.

FLATOW: Uh-huh.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: And the sun is actually super excited gas, which is called plasma.

FLATOW: Right.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: The electrons have stripped off - been stripped off.

FLATOW: Stripped, precisely.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: And so, we were forced to write this answer song to our own very popular "Why Does the Sun Shine."

Mr. LINNELL: Which is something we only do reluctantly. We don't - this whole fact-checking thing is very difficult for a rock band.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Yeah, yeah.

FLATOW: Well, you know, yeah, musicians don't know almost care about…

Mr. LINNELL: Yeah.

FLATOW: …whether there's plasma or…

Mr. FLANSBURGH: We care about the beauty in poetry.

Mr. LINNELL: Yeah.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Those our main concern.

Mr. LINNELL: All our lies are in our past.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. LINNELL: We're forgetting about the (unintelligible).

FLATOW: But it speaks very highly that you want to change the song to get it right.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Yeah. It was just sort of fun, too. I mean, basically, an engineer we're working with - we're actually talking about the conundrum of the whole thing because we had already - we recorded this same song from our repertoire for this album. And we're just like, well, what are we going to do? It's outdated. It's, you know…

FLATOW: Uh-huh.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: …science has evolved. The consensus has moved on from the…

FLATOW: Mm-hmm.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: …the idea of the song. And (unintelligible) actually said, why you just write a song called "The Sun is a Miasma of Incandescent Plasma"? And that's what we did. So…

FLATOW: And is that the name of the song?

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Yeah, that is the…


FLATOW: All right. Here it is. Here they is with a song…

Mr. LINNELL: Here they is.

FLATOW: Here they is, They Might Be Giants, from their album "Here Comes Science."

(Soundbite of song, "Why Does the Sun Shine (The Sun is a Miasma of Incandescent Plasma)")

THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS: (Singing) The sun is a miasma of incandescent plasma. The sun's not simply made out of gas. No, no, no. The sun is a quagmire. It's not made of fire. Forget what you've been told in the past. Plasma. Electrons are free. Plasma. Fourth state of matter. Not gas, not liquid, not solid. The sun isn't a red dwarf. I hope it never morphs into a supernova'd collapsed orb, orb, orb, orb. The sun is a miasma of incandescent plasma. I forget what I was told by myself, elf, elf, elf. Plasma. Electrons are free. Plasma. Fourth state of matter. Not gas, not liquid, not solid. Plasma. Forget that song. Plasma. They got it wrong. That thesis has been rendered invalid.

FLATOW: Wow. That's great. That's great.

Mr. LINNELL: Ira, I have to say we've been on a million radio shows and the reference with which you show the length and ending of a song is truly a recessive trait in deejays, hosts, radio people.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: You want to know why that is?

Mr. LINNELL: It's beautiful. Like, when you're actually at the top of the thing where you played the entire songs, sounds where you're like…

FLATOW: Right.

Mr. LINNELL: …you know, typically, you know, people just hit the fader 30 seconds right before it ends. It's like, oh, we don't have that kind of time.

FLATOW: I will tell you why that is.

Mr. LINNELL: That is - like - I'm a public radio guy.

FLATOW: I come from - yes, I come from a public radio, FM classical music background.

Mr. LINNELL: Oh, right. We were talking about you doing that.

FLATOW: And my - when I was in my learning days at WBFO in Buffalo…


FLATOW: …if I just faded down one…

Mr. LINNELL: Yeah.

FLATOW: …one note of a classical music - I once had an argument - I was the news director. I wanted to fade down the music…

Mr. LINNELL: Yeah. Yeah.

FLATOW: …so I could get a bulletin there.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Yeah. Exactly.

FLATOW: I heard, you can't run a bulletin. You can't interrupt in FM radio (unintelligible).

Mr. LINNELL: Right. Right.


Mr. LINNELL: So you were like the king of dead air.

FLATOW: I was…

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Yeah. Yeah.

FLATOW: …so you just let the song go all the way. You wrote the whole song, why don't we hear the whole song?

Mr. LINNELL: No, no. You actually let a little silence in there.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Yeah. Yeah.

FLATOW: Absolutely.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: You know, our guy in Boston, I guess, it was Robert J. Lurchsima(ph). We just - it would seem like he'd fallen asleep.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FLANSBURGH: You know, it was this quiet moment.

FLATOW: I remember him.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Yeah. Yeah. He was like, that was…

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: Now, that was…

Mr. FLANSBURGH: But it suggests a whole different kind of lifestyle. It's fantastic.

FLATOW: I have a suggestion for a song for you.

Mr. LINNELL: Oh, sure.

FLATOW: You know, you talked about the mistake with the make up of the sun.


FLATOW: How about something about Pluto not being a planet?

Mr. LINNELL: Oh, well, we do have a song. We haven't learned how to perform it in this group, but…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. LINNELL: …with this arrangement.

FLATOW: (unintelligible).

Mr. LINNELL: But we do have a song called "How Many Planets?" where we dodge the question of how many planets there are by simply enumerating everything, planet or not, in the course of the song.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Let the people decide.

Mr. LINNELL: Let the people decide. Yeah, yeah.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: What's your opinion on that, Ira?

FLATOW: I don't think it really matters, you know? I don't think that it matters that Pluto is (unintelligible)…

Mr. LINNELL: Yeah. Well, then, we're in agreement then, yeah.

FLATOW: You know, it's…

Mr. FLANSBURGH: That's more or less what we're expressing in this song.


Mr. FLANSBURGH: Who cares?

FLATOW: I would - if I were pressed, I would have to say yes, there are eight planets. But it doesn't really matter that Pluto has been demoted because it's just a name for something.

Mr. LINNELL: Yeah. Yeah. I think everybody kind of feels for Pluto a little bit, though.

FLATOW: Yeah. Yeah.

Mr. LINNELL: I think Woody Harrelson should be a planet, too. So that makes nine.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: Well, there are people who are, you know, are space cadets. But…

Mr. LINNELL: What's that email address again, Ira?

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: Don't send it to me. Don't send it to me. Send it to John Linnell. He will take all…

Mr. LINNELL: That's right.

FLATOW: I'll take questions. Go ahead. Go ahead. I'm willing to debate. Do you have a - you never asked anybody this, I mean, this question. But, you know, you never asked anybody who's your favorite kid, right? And do you ask musicians what's your favorite song? (unintelligible).

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. LINNELL: We - it's funny. We do get that and we are - yeah, it's like insulting, you know?

Mr. FLANSBURGH: How could you ask that? Ah. I'm appalled.

FLATOW: I remember there was a radio station that used to advertise itself as one of two of America's great radio stations. So, you never had to ask them…


FLATOW: …who the second one is. So…

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Well, if we said it's a Tom Lehrer song, we'd suddenly reveal something.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: Let's see if we can get another song in with the…

Mr. LINNELL: It was a laughter epidemic. Which we do. We're - what else we got?

FLATOW: Come on.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Oh, let's - let's do "My Brother the Ape."

Mr. LINNELL: "My Brother the Ape."

Flatow: "My Brother" - here are They Might Be Giants…

Mr. FLANSBURGH: About evolution, that controversial fact.

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of song, "My Brother the Ape")

THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS: (Singing) Well, I got the information that you sent to everyone. And I told you family picnics aren't exactly my idea of fun. You replied that everyone but me said they were going to come. And that's how you talked me into going to the reunion. When you said everyone, you really meant it.

My brother the ape. My brother the ape. I received the photos you sent, and I don't regret that I went, or the sight of everybody stiffly posing under one tent. But I don't feel I belong and I keep wanting to escape. And I fail to see the likeness between me and my brother the ape. They all kept saying, they all keep saying, how much we look alike, how much we look alike. I don't think that we look alike at all. But I'll admit that I look more like a chimp than I look like my cousin the shrimp or my distant kin the lichens or the snowy egret or the moss. And I find it hard to recognize some relatives of ours like the rotifer, the sycamore, iguanas and sea stars.

My brother the ape. My brother the ape. My brother the ape. My brother the ape. My brother the ape.

FLATOW: Terrific. They Might be Giants, the new album "Here Comes Science," John Flansburgh and John Linnell here, in the studio with us rocking away. And also on the drums, Marty Beller back there not saying very much. But…

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: Any other folks you play with? Any other people in your band?

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Yeah. Yeah.

Mr. LINNELL: Oh, yeah.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: We actually - we're just about to go on tour. We're doing some family shows, as well as a flood show where we're playing our 1990 breakthrough album "Flood" in sequence. That's kind of once-in-a-lifetime deal for us. And then we're doing this whole new show for adults. But joining us onstage is this fellow named Ralph Carney who's famous among musicians for being the guy who plays on all the Tom Waits - sort of the classic Tom Waits middle-period, circus music albums. He's a multi-instrumentalist. He plays a lot of different kinds of horns. And he's going to be joining us, and it's - it'll be very interesting working with somebody whose got such a clear voice as a musician. It's very…

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Unlike the rest of us.

Mr. LINNELL: Yeah. Yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FLANSBURGH: We're just hacking along.

Mr. LINNELL: We also have - Dan Miller plays guitar and Danny Weinkauf plays base. So, it's - it'll be a six-piece. (unintelligible)

FLATOW: And where are you going to be? Where can people see you?

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Everywhere. We're…

FLATOW: You guys…

Mr. FLANSBURGH: …in Los Angeles, yeah.

FLATOW: You got a schedule at all you could tell for your next…

Mr. LINNELL: Yeah.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: I would - go to our Web site.

Mr. LINNELL: Yeah. Or go to Facebook? Facebook has got all that information.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: We're - we got all these - and also, there are all these videos. If you want to see videos of these songs, the entire album "Here Comes Science" is being made into a DVD. And there - so there are all these animated videos accompanying the music. And they're really - some of them are really quite remarkable.

FLATOW: So we might see you in an MTV video?

Mr. FLANSBURGH: I don't think MTV is playing videos anymore.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FLANSBURGH: But if they were…

FLATOW: So (unintelligible).

Mr. FLANSBURGH: If they were, they certainly - no, I mean, it's shocking…


Mr. FLANSBURGH: …to everyone.

FLATOW: Right. (unintelligible).

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Especially musicians.

FLATOW: I have two daughters. I know (unintelligible).

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Yeah. It's more of a lifestyle. Music is more of a lifestyle or expression these days.


Mr. FLANSBURGH: But I don't know if they really warm up to science that much. But…

FLATOW: We're talking with They Might Be Giants and their new album "Here Comes Science," John Flansburgh and John Linnell on SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR News.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: We're on the radio, guys (unintelligible).

FLATOW: I'm Ira Flatow.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: Hey, have you never been on the radio before?

Mr. FLANSBURGH: No, no. Not on SCIENCE FRIDAY. This is a big deal.

FLATOW: Wow. I'm very flattered, you know, because we all wish we could do something else. I wish I could play a musical instrument, you know?

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Well, I think you can play a musical instrument.

Mr. LINNELL: I was just hoping that we'd be on SCIENCE FRIDAY.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: Well, one of us got our wish.

Mr. LINNELL: Exactly.

FLATOW: Right.

Mr. LINNELL: Exactly.

FLATOW: And is there a topic you'd like to take on that you haven't done yet, a subject matter?

Mr. LINNELL: We're thinking - we're tossing our ideas for the next Disney-produced Giants record, instructional music for young people. We're thinking maybe there goes your civil rights, could be the next one. That was one idea, I think, Flansburgh had. Yeah.

FLATOW: Uh-huh.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Yeah. We come the (unintelligible) lists. We could do like a history, like sort of a people's history of America.

Mr. LINNELL: People's history of America. Yeah.

FLATOW: Well, we've got about two-and-a-half minutes left. Have you got a quick song you could sing, we can take it out?

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Oh, sure. What should we do?

Mr. LINNELL: We could - do you want to hear a non-science song or…

FLATOW: Sure. Sure. Whatever. We - you know, we got a couple of minutes left (unintelligible).

Mr. FLANSBURGH: I don't have everything in mind. But…

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: Well, play us out to the end of the show.

Mr. LINNELL: Why don't we do a song that's factually incorrect?

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of song, "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)")

They Might Be Giants: (Singing) Istanbul was Constantinople. Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople. Been a long time gone, Constantinople. Now it's Turkish delight on a moonlit night. Every gal in Constantinople lives in Istanbul, not Constantinople. So if you've a date in Constantinople, she'll be waiting in Istanbul.

Even old New York was once New Amsterdam. Why they changed it I can't say, people just liked it better that way.

So take me back to Constantinople. No, you can't go back to Constantinople. Been a long time gone, Constantinople. Why did Constantinople get the works? That's nobody's business but the Turks.

Istanbul. Istanbul. Istanbul. Istanbul. Even old New York was once New Amsterdam. Why they changed it I can't say, people just liked it better that way. No, you can't go back to Constantinople. No, you can't go back to Constantinople. Been a long time gone, Constantinople. Why did Constantinople get the works? That's nobody's business but the Turks. Istanbul.


You really aren't going to talk until the music stops.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: Wow. That's - I love that song. I know that song.

Mr. LINNELL: Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah.

FLATOW: It's an oldie moldie.

Mr. LINNELL: Yeah. It's super oldie.

FLATOW: And that's not on this album, though.

Mr. LINNELL: No, no.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: It is not.

FLATOW: But it's still a great song. And so if people go to watch you in concert, do you play other stuff besides…

Mr. LINNELL: Oh, yeah. Yeah.


Mr. LINNELL: You know - I mean, this album's only - we're only doing the - like sort of, you know, tribute to ourselves show, that's only 40 minutes of the show. And the show is like an hour. The family show is like an hour and 15. The adult show is like an hour and 45, sometimes two hours when we're feeling heroic and when in our Bruce Springsteen mode. Things start expanding into the Mannerist period of the…

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Yeah. I think we play more songs per show than Bruce. But probably only about half as long.

Mr. LINNELL: Yeah.

FLATOW: Right. I'm going to have to drop in the next…

Mr. LINNELL: Yeah. Come on.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Please do. Please do.

FLATOW: I'm going to have to drop in and…

Mr. LINNELL: Yeah. Bring your accordion.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: Bring my - we try not to talk about that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. LINNELL: (unintelligible)

FLATOW: I just have to bring my chopsticks, is the only thing I have. I'm a frustrated drummer, too. So, I won't even - thank you, Marty. I won't even try to do that. Well, we've run out of time. But you guys were terrific for (unintelligible).

Mr. LINNELL: Thank you. Thank you so much.

FLATOW: You took up our whole studio with the musical instruments. You're welcome anytime you want to come back.

Mr. FLANSBURGH: Well, thank you so much. It was really a pleasure.

FLATOW: You're welcome. John Flansburgh and John Linnell, also on the drums, Marty Beller, They Might Be Giants. The new album is "Here Comes Science." And here goes science, because that's the end of our program. Thank you all…


FLATOW: …for taking time to be with us today.

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