They Might Be Drinking

It occurred to me in the shower this morning, as I bellowed my way through my morning songlist, that They Might Be Giants is among the few pop bands (as opposed to country) I know that makes consistent, quality references to drinking. Off the top of my head:

Self-titled debut album:

Well, I ain’t feeling happy
About the state of things in my life
But I’m working to make it better
With a six of Miller High Life

– from “Alienation’s for the Rich”


Lie still, little bottle
And shake my shaky hand
Black coffee’s not enough for me
I need a better friend

– from “Lie Still, Little Bottle”


She never called me baby-doll
I never had much pride
But now I rock a barstool
And I drink for two
Just pondering this time bomb in my mind

– from “Lucky Ball and Chain”

Apollo 18:

Now let’s toast the sad, cold fact
Our love’s never coming back
And we’ll race to the bottom of a glass
So narrow your eyes

– from “Narrow Your Eyes”

John Henry:

Meet James Ensor
Belgium’s famous painter
Raise a glass and sit and stare
Understand the man

– from “Meet James Ensor” (Admittedly, the weakest reference in the bunch.)

Factory Showroom:

Full bottle in front of me
Time to roll up my sleeves
And get to work
And after many glasses of work
I get paid
In the brain

– from “Your Own Worst Enemy”

And there, alas, my love affair ends. Haven’t bought any since. But what a run! I knew there was a reason I liked these guys!


  1. They’ve got some good ones post Factory Showroom; I can’t recall offhand whether any have to do with drinking, though.

  2. Matthew,

    Have you forgotten the closing track on Flood? Drinking AND theology in one song! You’re right, these guys are dang good!

    (I reproduce the song’s lyrics in their entirety lest you should ever forget again…!)


    Road Movie to Berlin

    We’re in a road movie to Berlin
    Can’t drive out the way we drove in
    So sneak out this glass of bourbon
    And we’ll go

    We were once so close to heaven
    Peter came out and gave us medals
    Declaring us the nicest of the damned

    Time won’t find the lost
    It’ll sweep up our skeleton bones
    So take the wheel and I will take the pedals

    We’re in a road movie to Berlin
    Can’t drive out the way we drove in
    So sneak out this glass of bourbon
    And we’ll go

  3. Matthew,

    P.S. – How’s this for an exchange between Norah, my 4 year old, and her uncle Canisius and her mother Cecilia:

    scene i: kitchen, young man getting his hair cut

    Norah: Oh, you re going to be so handsome!

    Canisius: Thought I was already handsome.

    Norah: Oh, but you’re be much more handsome

    [sound of shears]

    Norah: You know, its going to be just like that man who left for California is back again

    [sound of shears]

    Norah: Not the one who came back but the one who left for california

    [sound of shears]

    Norah: He’s going to look just like him

    [sound of shears]

    Norah: Do you remember him? the one that left?

    [shears fade to silence]

    scene ii: later that day

    Norah: I can’t believe I’m going to be five. I can’t wait until I’m older – I’m sure when I get older that I’m going to be just beaituful.

    Mama: Oh, Norah, that’s not what matters, you know…

    Norah: Yes it is Mama.

    Mama: No, what matters is what you look like on the inside.

    Norah: But Mama, no one can see my insides anyway…

  4. Anonymous says

    Norah is rad.

  5. How about some Fountains of Wayne?

    From “Red Dragon Tattoo”:

    Monday, gonna take a ride on
    The N train down to Coney Island:
    With the money I saved
    Gonna get me engraved.
    Drink down a lot of Basil Hayden,
    Get kicked out when I can’t see straight and
    What an island to be on
    Under the neon….

    From “Bright Future in Sales”:

    Sleeping on a planter at the Port Authority
    Waiting for my bus to come
    Seven scotch-and-sodas at the office party
    Now I don’t remember where I’m from

    Heading for the airport on a misty morning
    Gonna catch a flight to Baltimore
    Try to kill an hour with a whiskey sour
    If there’s time I might have just one more….

  6. Notrelatedtoted says

    Well, if we’re expanding this beyond the Giants, don’t forget the greatest drinking band of all time: The Pogues.

    I am going, I am going
    Any which way the wind may be blowing
    I am going, I am going
    Where streams of whiskey are flowing

    Not exactly advocates of temperance.

  7. Father Stephanos, O.S.B. says

    I took four years of French in high school, and chose it as my minor in college. The only French song I know by heart from begininng to end (all five verses) is a drinking song.

  8. Anonymous says

    Don’t forget “they’ll need a crane” from Lincoln:

    Lad looks at other gals
    Gal thinks jim beam is handsomer than lad
    He isn’t bad

  9. mamagiglio says

    TMBG has some great kids records (no references to drinking-just the alphabet). My kids (5 nad 2 1/2) love their “Here come the ABCs” CD and DVD. They also have a book and accompanying CD for bedtime called “Bed bed bed” –very soothing. FYI for the little Lickonas.

  10. Matthew Lickona says

    Thanks all. Mama Giglio – haven’t heard the ABC’s album, though the kids do love NO. I’ll check it out – thanks for the heads up.

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