Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head
The second song from They Might Be Giants' self titled album and my thoughts about it.
Have you ever tried to sing along to this song? John Flansburgh manages to make verses that sound like the syllables of the first verse are carrying over into the next in a way that is oddly satisfying for me. Try as I might, I cannot sing the chorus, “Put your hand inside the puppet head” in any kind of articulate way at the same speed as Flansy. It seems superhuman. My attempts usually come out something like, “put your han side puppet head.” Is this interesting?
In the middle of this song is a lyric that I say during busy days at work, chore-filled days at home, or while running deliriously boring errands on a weekly basis:
Memo to myself
do the dumb things I gotta do
I’ve written “do the dumb things I gotta do” on memo notepads in offices at every opportunity over the last 30ish years. It will never stop amusing me. A fun fact I learned while reading the TMBG Wiki, is that Weird Al shared in a 2022 interview that this track is his favorite They Might Be Giants song. This is funny, because Put Your Hand Inside The Puppet Head’s favorite Weird Al song is Everything You Know Is Wrong which was an homage to Everything Right Is Wrong Again which I wrote about last week (check it out here!).
Let’s build a little empire out of some crazy garbage.
I first heard this song in that camper trailer with my best friend. The drum machine kicking it off. “As your body floats down third street with the burn smell factory closing up.” What kind of factory? What do they make there? Burn smells. Like most of their lyrics, it’s such a snarky line and I absolutely love it. I’ve never really spent much time considering or discussing the interpretation of this song. I feel that a lot of TMBG songs aren’t necessarily meant for deciphering a hidden meaning. For the sake of the post, I did read some theories. A lot of the consensus seems to be around the notion that the “puppet head” is capitalism or industry or having a job in general that you do not want to have Putting your hand inside is admitting that you have to control that puppet version of yourself. Look, don’t expect fan theories on all of these but I’d love to hear yours in the comments.
When I’m listening to playlists on Shuffle and Puppet Head comes on, I’m usually going to listen to it but I have skipped it on occasion just based on the sheer number of times I’ve heard this song in my life. Not quite a no-skip but definitely fantastic.
Post a video or audio recording of you trying to sing along to this chorus. I don’t want to feel alone in my failures anymore. Or at least, show me it can be done.