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TED2007

They Might Be Giants: Wake up!

March 3, 2007

In a very, very early-morning set, They Might Be Giants rock the final day of TED2007.

They Might Be Giants - Band
John Linnell and John Flansburgh are They Might Be Giants: multi-instrumental, tech-savvy and implacably prolific, they are the musicians of choice of geeks, tinkerers and curious kids of all ages. Full bio

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Double-click the English subtitles below to play the video.
(Bass guitar)
00:18
(Bass guitar and accordion)
00:34
♫ You're older than you've ever been ♫
00:53
♫ and now you're even older ♫
00:55
♫ and now you're even older ♫
00:57
♫ and now you're even older. ♫
01:00
♫ You're older than you've even been ♫
01:02
♫ and now you're even older ♫
01:04
♫ and now you're older still. ♫
01:06
♫ Time ♫
01:11
♫ is marching on ♫
01:15
♫ and time ♫
01:20
♫ is still marching on. ♫
01:35
♫ This day will soon be at an end ♫
01:41
♫ and now it's even sooner ♫
01:43
♫ and now it's even sooner ♫
01:45
♫ and now it's even sooner. ♫
01:46
♫ This day will soon be at an end ♫
01:48
♫ and now it's even sooner ♫
01:50
♫ and now it's sooner still. ♫
01:52
♫ You're older than you've ever been ♫
02:12
♫ and now you're even older ♫
02:14
♫ and now you're even older ♫
02:15
♫ and now you're even older. ♫
02:16
♫ You're older than you've ever been ♫
02:19
♫ and now you're even older ♫
02:21
♫ and now you're older still. ♫
02:23
Thank you very much.
02:30
Good morning everybody.
02:31
We are They Might Be Giants.
02:32
(Applause)
02:34
I am wearing the Al Gore in-ear monitors
02:38
he wore on the Larry King show
02:40
and I'm hearing that transmission and not mine.
02:44
But I guess that's in keeping,
02:47
so now we'll just move to the PowerPoint presentation,
02:49
ladies and gentlemen.
02:51
This is a brand new song.
02:53
In the spirit of TED, we're bringing you something
02:55
that has not been released.
02:57
John, do you want to introduce the song?
03:01
This is a song about a creature called a hummingbird moth
03:02
which imitates another creature
03:05
which imitates yet another creature.
03:07
It's completely fucked up
03:11
and can only be explained in song.
03:12
♫ Everyone is crying at the dread hypnotic flying ♫
03:18
♫ of the bee of the bird of the moth. ♫
03:23
♫ You can't walk, you can't ramble ♫
03:27
♫ 'cause you're gonna have to scramble ♫
03:30
♫ from the bee of the bird of the moth. ♫
03:33
♫ Catbird is a cat ♫
03:37
♫ but he's got bugness in his veins. ♫
03:40
♫ Manhouse lives within himself ♫
03:43
♫ with thoughtful human brains. ♫
03:45
♫ Neither one is equal
03:48
♫ to the challenge of the freak we'll call ♫
03:50
♫ the bee of the bird of the moth. ♫
03:53
♫ Now the moth ♫
04:00
♫ defeats the mouse and man. ♫
04:02
♫ It's messing with the plan. ♫
04:04
♫ It can't be believed ♫
04:07
♫ 'cause it's just a hummingbird moth ♫
04:10
♫ who's acting like the bird ♫
04:14
♫ that thinks it's a bee. ♫
04:17
♫ Got a brand new shipment ♫
04:21
♫ of electrical equipment ♫
04:23
♫ it's addressed to the bottom of the sea. ♫
04:26
♫ Send a tangerine-colored ♫
04:31
♫ nuclear submarine ♫
04:33
♫ with a sticker that says STP. ♫
04:36
♫ Windshield wiper washer fluid ♫
04:41
♫ spraying in the air ... ♫
04:43
♫ headlights under head lice ♫
04:46
♫ under hats lie everywhere. ♫
04:48
♫ Subatomic waves ♫
04:51
♫ to the underwater caves ♫
04:53
♫ of the bee of the bird of the moth. ♫
04:55
♫ Now the moth defeats the mouse and man. ♫
05:18
♫ It's messing with the plan. ♫
05:22
♫ It can't be believed ♫
05:25
♫ 'cause it's just a hummingbird moth ♫
05:28
♫ who's acting like a bird ♫
05:32
♫ that thinks it's a bee. ♫
05:35
♫ Is it us or is this messed up? ♫
05:38
♫ Everyone's deforming ♫
05:43
♫ in the presence of the swarming ♫
05:45
♫ of the bee of the bird of the moth. ♫
05:48
♫ Protozoa, snakes and horses ♫
05:53
♫ have enlisted in the forces ♫
05:55
♫ of the bee of bird of the moth. ♫
05:58
♫ Catbug is a cat ♫
06:04
♫ but he's got bugness in his veins. ♫
06:05
♫ Manhouse lives within himself ♫
06:08
♫ with thoughtful human brains. ♫
06:11
♫ Neither one is equal ♫
06:13
♫ to the challenge of the freak we'll call ♫
06:15
♫ the bee of the bird of the moth. ♫
06:18
(Applause)
06:42
Thanks a lot.
06:43
Thank you very much.
06:45
So we are past our 1,000th show.
06:48
Probably somewhere around 1,500.
06:53
It's hard to know.
06:54
We've only done two shows in 2007 so far,
06:56
but our first show
06:59
was actually the coldest performance we've ever had.
07:00
It was 19 degrees in St. Louis about a month ago
07:04
and I'm happy to report
07:08
that this performance you are seeing today
07:10
is the earliest we have ever performed.
07:12
So thank you.
07:15
We are cultural test pilots, ladies and gentlemen.
07:20
How early can a rock performance begin?
07:23
Not all the facts are in about performing
07:30
at 8.30 in the morning.
07:32
I can tell you the 19 degree thing
07:37
was fantastic.
07:40
All right.
07:49
So we don't know that much
07:50
about the history of violinists
07:52
but we do know that when we entered
07:54
the state of New Jersey
07:55
there is an uptick in violence.
07:56
This song is called "Asbury Park."
08:00
It's based on a real life experience.
08:02
♫ I ♫
08:08
♫ I got ♫
08:10
♫ I got kicked ♫
08:12
♫ I got kicked in the head ♫
08:14
♫ backstage at the Stone. ♫
08:15
♫ Stone Pone. ♫
08:17
♫ Stone Pony. ♫
08:20
♫ I got kicked in the head ♫
08:21
♫ backstage at the Stone Pony ♫
08:22
♫ where I swore to the guy ♫
08:24
♫ that the guy who took his beer wasn't me. ♫
08:25
♫ Me got ♫
08:28
♫ Me got kicked ♫
08:30
♫ Me got kicked in the head ♫
08:32
♫ backstage at the Stone. ♫
08:33
♫ Stone Pone. ♫
08:35
♫ Stone Pony. ♫
08:38
♫ Me got kicked in the head ♫
08:39
♫ backstage at the Stone Pony ♫
08:40
♫ where I swore to the guy ♫
08:42
♫ that the guy who took his beer ♫
08:43
♫ was a guy dressed like me. ♫
08:44
♫ Not me! ♫
08:47
♫ Not me! ♫
08:49
♫ Not me! ♫
08:50
Thank you.
08:52
Marty Beller on the drums over there.
08:54
(Applause)
08:56
We want to get in as many songs as possible
09:01
during our brief time here
09:04
so this is the one to play.
09:06
This song is called "Fingertips."
09:08
♫ Everything is catching on fire ♫
09:12
♫ Yes, everything is catching on fire ♫
09:14
♫ Yes, everything is catching on fire. ♫
09:16
♫ Fingertips ♫
09:23
♫ Fingertips ♫
09:25
♫ Fingertips ♫
09:26
♫ I hear the wind blow ♫
09:29
♫ I hear the wind blow ♫
09:31
♫ It seems to say ♫
09:34
♫ Hello ♫
09:35
♫ Hello ♫
09:37
♫ I'm the one who loves you so. ♫
09:38
♫ Hey, now everybody, now. ♫
09:40
♫ Hey, now everybody ♫
09:41
♫ Hey, now everybody, now ♫
09:42
♫ Who's that standing ♫
09:47
♫ at the window?♫
09:49
♫ I found a new friend ♫
09:53
♫ underneath my pillow. ♫
09:56
♫ Come on and wreck my car ♫
09:59
♫ Come on and wreck my car ♫
10:02
♫ Come on and wreck my car ♫
10:05
♫ Come on and wreck my car ♫
10:07
♫ Aren't you the guy who hit me in the eye? ♫
10:11
♫ Aren't you the guy who hit me in the eye? ♫
10:14
♫ Please pass the milk, please. ♫
10:18
♫ Please pass the milk, please. ♫
10:21
♫ Please pass the milk, please. ♫
10:24
♫ Leave me alone, leave me alone. ♫
10:27
♫ Who's knocking on the wall? ♫
10:32
♫ All alone, all alone. ♫
10:37
♫ All by myself. ♫
10:41
♫ What's that blue thing doing here? ♫
10:45
♫ Something grabbed ahold of my hand ♫
10:51
♫ I didn't know what had my hand ♫
10:53
♫ but that's when all my troubles began. ♫
10:56
♫ I don't understand you ♫
11:02
♫ I don't understand you ♫
11:04
♫ I cannot understand you ♫
11:06
♫ I cannot understand you ♫
11:07
♫ I don't understand the things you say ♫
11:09
♫ I can't understand a single word ♫
11:12
♫ I don't understand you ♫
11:14
♫ I don't understand you ♫
11:17
♫ I just don't understand you ♫
11:18
♫ I don't understand you ♫
11:19
♫ I do not understand you ♫
11:21
♫ Don't understand you ♫
11:23
♫ Don't understand you ♫
11:25
♫ I turn around ♫
11:27
♫ See the sound ♫
11:29
♫ Turn around and see the thing ♫
11:30
♫ that made the sound. ♫
11:31
♫ Mysterious whisper ♫
11:33
♫ Mysterious whisper ♫
11:40
♫ Mysterious whisper ♫
11:45
♫ Mysterious whisper ♫
11:50
♫ The day that love came to play. ♫
11:57
♫ I'm having a heart attack ♫
12:05
♫ I'm having a heart attack ♫
12:11
♫ I'm having a heart attack ♫
12:15
♫ I'm having a ... ♫
12:22
♫ Fingertips ♫
12:28
♫ Fingertips ♫
12:33
♫ I walk along darkened corridors ♫
12:36
♫ And I walk along darkened corridors ♫
12:50
Thank you very much -- "Fingertips."
13:06
(Applause)
13:09
♫ We're taking calls -- from the dead. ♫
13:13
♫ We're taking calls -- from the dead. ♫
13:15
♫ We're taking phone calls from the dead. ♫
13:18
♫ They're calling from beyond the grave. ♫
13:22
♫ Beyond the grave. ♫
13:25
♫ They have some questions ♫
13:26
♫ And things to share ♫
13:27
♫ From underneath the cold, cold ground. ♫
13:28
We're soliciting phone calls from dead people
13:33
as a special TED presentation.
13:37
We're taking calls live on stage
13:38
here at TED in Monterey.
13:41
And I think we have a caller coming in here.
13:44
Hello there.
13:49
You're live.
13:51
Hello. Who's there, please?
13:53
Am I on the air?
13:56
Hi there.
13:58
You're on with They Might Be Giants.
13:59
This is Eleanor Roosevelt.
14:01
Hello, Eleanor, please ...
14:02
I want to talk to ...
14:03
Please turn off your radio, Eleanor.
14:04
I wanna talk to Randi.
14:07
I've got a question for Randi.
14:08
What's your question, please?
14:10
I want to talk to the Amazing Randi.
14:13
Do you have a laminated badge, Eleanor?
14:16
I want my million dollars.
14:21
Eleanor, I'm sorry,
14:24
do you have a laminated badge?
14:25
No, I don't have a badge.
14:26
Well, I think we're going to stop
14:29
that part of the show.
14:30
Here's a song we like to think of
14:34
as the future anthem of TED.
14:36
It's actually a children's song
14:37
but like so many projects for children
14:39
it's really just a Trojan horse
14:41
for adult work.
14:44
This song is called
14:46
"The Alphabet ...
14:48
Of Nations!"
14:53
♫ Algeria, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Dominica, ♫
15:17
♫ Egypt, France, The Gambia ♫
15:19
♫ Hungary, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, ♫
15:22
♫ Libya and Mongolia. ♫
15:24
♫ Norway, Oman, Pakistan, ♫
15:27
♫ Qatar, Russia, Suriname, ♫
15:29
♫ Turkey, Uruguay, Vietnam, ♫
15:32
♫ West Xylophone, Yemen, Zimbabwe. ♫
15:34
♫ Algeria, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Dominica, ♫
15:47
♫ Egypt, France, The Gambia, ♫
15:49
♫ Hungary, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, ♫
15:52
♫ Libya and Mongolia. ♫
15:54
♫ Norway, Oman, Pakistan, ♫
15:56
♫ Qatar, Russia, Suriname, ♫
15:58
♫ Turkey, Uruguay, Vietnam, ♫
16:01
♫ West Xylophone, Yemen, Zimbabwe. ♫
16:03
♫ Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Canada, ♫
16:10
♫ Australia, Belgium, Chad, ♫
16:16
♫ Afghanistan, Brunei, China, Denmark, ♫
16:21
♫ Ecuador, Fiji, Guatemala, ♫
16:24
♫ Algeria, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Dominica, ♫
16:40
♫ Egypt, France, The Gambia, ♫
16:43
♫ Hungary, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, ♫
16:45
♫ Libya and Mongolia. ♫
16:48
♫ Norway, Oman, Pakistan, ♫
16:50
♫ Qatar, Russia, Suriname, ♫
16:52
♫ Turkey, Uruguay, Vietnam, ♫
16:55
♫ West Xylophone, Yemen, Zimbabwe. ♫
16:57
Thank you so much.
17:06
You've been a wonderful 8:30 audience.
17:07
Have a great session.
17:10
Thank you all.
17:11

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They Might Be Giants - Band
John Linnell and John Flansburgh are They Might Be Giants: multi-instrumental, tech-savvy and implacably prolific, they are the musicians of choice of geeks, tinkerers and curious kids of all ages.

Why you should listen

Geek-pop maestros John Linnell and John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants can count inspired adults, inquisitive children, casual pop listeners and underground connoisseurs as equals among their fan base. From their origins in New York City's alternative rock scene in the 1980s to the children's entertainment industry 20 years later, they've been crafting quirky, lore-filled tunes which, despite their capricious instrumentation, remain catchy, effervescent, enduring -- and almost defiantly accessible.

As the first major-label band to release an album in exclusively MP3 format, They Might Be Giants are no strangers to offbeat, tech-centric projects. For their album Apollo 18 (named for a nonexistent moon mission), NASA dubbed them the "Musical Ambassadors" for International Space Year in 1992 -- while their Dial-A-Song answering machine is the stuff of D.I.Y. music legend. They continue to give away video and audio from live shows, write and distribute new, free songs frequently, and their list of ingenious projects is endless.

The original video is available on TED.com
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