Rhythm Section Want Ad
No others need apply
We finally made it here. The last song on They Might Be Giants’ first album. A song with an incredible guitar and accordion breakdown, cleaver word play, and phrasing that scratches an itch that the band knows existed on your brain in the first place. This final song is called “Rhythm Section Want Ad.”
The first thing I think of whenever I hear this song is me sitting in down with my cousin-in-law at his house where I was being given guitar instruction. For the record, the cousin teaching me guitar wasn’t some other kid who happened to know a few things. No, this was a cousin of an age that was oldest enough to have already played music professionally and also own a house and raise a family.
Musical Instruction with Greg
Shout out to Greg who taught me how to find the root note in a chord when listening to songs, walked me through and transcribed several TMBG guitar riffs, and listened to me carry on about how interesting and special the lyrical phrasings always were. I remember sitting down and going over this lyrics of this track with Greg and one in particular that I loved:
There's a place for those who love their poetry
It's just across from the sign that says, "Pros Only"
The play on “pros” as in professional poets only but also “prose” as in only poems that do not consist of verses based on rhythmic metre or rhyme.
Essentially, this is just a pun tucked into the opening verse of a song that is not written in prose but at the age of 16, I thought this was the smartest and funniest lyric to ever exist in a song. Mostly, because I got the joke. So really, I just felt like I was SO SMART and intelligent for picking up on this. I’ll bet this is a common occurrence for young TMBG fans.
Song Review: Structure and Appeal
Rythym Section is an upbeat rock and roll banger if ever there was one. A final stamp on an album that made a definitive statement to music world that They Might Be Giants are something different. They understand music and melody, are skilled in the absurd and the intellectual.
I will always sing along to this song as often as I pick up a guitar and play around with the chords and riffs that I can remember. There is a lyric that I will forever screw up, no matter how much I tell myself what words are being sung. The verse seems to fly into my ears at breakneck speed and my poor brain stumbles every time.
So if you like a band with a chick singer
say your cup of tea is a wall of trom-
bones if you dig Menudo or MD-
C we salute you the way we know.
Lyrical Challenges and Personal Anecdotes
The way “trombones” is split between phrases isn’t what catches me up. On the contrary, it' is the “Menudo or MDC” line that short circuits my brain and mouth connection. I find myself stuttering and mumbling my way past it until I reach “you the way we know” as if I absolutely stuck that landing.
Looking Ahead: LINCOLN
I am going to be digging into one of my favorite musical albums from any artist of all time - LINCOLN. Finishing off the 18 week run with the song that lent its title to the name of this newsletter. It’s going to be a very special few months ahead and I hope you’ll subscribe and read along.
Join the first KMSOB Listening Party on Feb 4th at 10am! Just hop in the chat with the Substack app for the Spotify link. Read below for details!
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