Flansburgh Writes
About "They Got Lost"


On the last couple of tours you might have heard us performing "On The Drag" or "They Got Lost" and talking about the "They Got Lost" rarities disc- well, you can only get it at shows and on-line! And it's exactly this rarity that makes it such a great gift. I have written some highly subjective personal liner notes to the various songs to perhaps pique the interest of people who haven't checked it out, and as an enhancement for the proud owners of this fine disc.

So here's a highly subjective overview by of "They Got Lost"

Rest Awhile This is a highly rocking track which really spotlights an extraordinary rhythm section. This is the very first recording we did with Dan Hickey and probably the last we did with bass legend Graham Maby (the mega-bass power behind nu-waver Joe Jackson) before he got scooped away by Natalie Merchant. It was also one of the first sessions we did at Coyote Studio, and there was a very fun and easy vibe around this session.

Truth In Your Words This is one of my favorites from the McSweeney's disc. Very new wave. Recorded and mixed within a Malcolm In The Middle tracking session, although it's all machines save for the electric guitars. I wish it was longer.

On the Drag You might remember this one from the live show. We recorded a version of this for Factory Showroom but it sounded kind of generic. At a later session at Coyote for something else we pulled this one out and the track came back to life.

All Alone This song was part of the ABC Nightline series that we did. Our assignment was to write a song about a germ that went to the moon and caused quite a bit of confusion at NASA. This song contains a little more existential angst than your average folk song, and probably more than was required.

Down to the Bottom of the Sea Another fine miniature from the McSweeney's session. This track features both JL and me tracking it up on the Korg "preset" synthesizer- a remarkably sleazy device from the mid-70s that I bought in a pawn shop that kinda simplifies the idea of a monophonic synthesizer into a pretty straightforward ugly sound maker, and with the addition of the guitars, it's a real contender for the most out-of-tune track we've ever recorded.

I'm Sick (of this American life) We wrote and recorded this in a single afternoon on a dare from Sarah Vowell from This American Life while she waited at a coffee shop for us to finish. She offered us money to write a song spontaneously, as part of her report on Dial-A-Song, and, while we turned down the dough, we rose to the bait and cooked this thing up. Nice obvious use of some simple drum loops, and no bass instrument in sight-which I find intriguing and pretty random. The lyrics cannibalize some of what was going to become "Cyclops Rock" probably because they were sitting around at the moment.

Words Are Like My second favorite track on the disc. The lyrics are a total dreamscape. That's Robin "Goldie" Goldwasser doing a top-quality "Levon-Helms-asleep-at-the-drums" imitation and on harmony vocal. This was our little Americana-tribute for the "Battle of the Bands" project we cooked up for TMBG Unlimited last year. Again-drums and no bass.

I Am a Human Head This song was recorded for "No!" but came across too adult in the end. Dan Miller delivers some nice guitar work.

Oranges We cooked up this song as an accompaniment to a cool web site designed by The Chopping Block (the fine folks who've designed Mink Car, No! and a lot of our web stuff.)

Empty Bottle Blues (instrumental) We put most of this track together electronically for a Malcolm session, and then set trumpet player Jim O'Connor loose on it. I remember instructing him to keep it as simple and bluesy as possible, basically in keeping with the simplicity of the track, and he still cooked up this wild and sophisticated part. He also harmonized it in a most excellent way in the second half of the song.

They Got Lost Our title track is vibey tour-de-force of TMBG Mk II. Eric Schermerhorn and I worked out some nice interwoven guitar parts, and the lyric of the song is the universal touring band mantra.

Reprehensible A cool song that fell between the cracks. This song features the sound of the Mellotron (actually from a sampler) that was a primitive version of sampling created in the 60s. The "horn section" is actually created by playing a chord on an electronic keyboard, but instead of a piano or organ sound you get the sound of a saxophone, or in this case, the sound of a very old-fashioned, melodramatic, vibrato-laded sax with a tone more from the 40s than from the 60s when it was recorded.

Rat Patrol This song cause quite a bit of division-even among those within the inner sanctum of TMBG. The effect of Linnell's very twitchy vocal is further heightened when I come in with my personal caterwauling. We can't really justify this track. We're just grateful it's finally on a CD.

The Army's Tired Now An abstract version of an antiwar song. The spare extended instrumental opening adds something haunting to the track. I think this song was originally more on the Neil Young side of the good ship Rock, but this recording goes to show how an octave bass part and a sleighbell really can make anything sound like "Pet Sounds" (which is a good thing).

Certain People I Could Name A piano driven song with subtle charm from the Factory Showroom era. Don't really know how this got put aside, but I suspect it was probably more due to its mid-tempo than its high quality.

Theme to McSweeney's #6 (instrumental) Linnell "switches on" to something with this highly filigreed instrumental.

Dollar for Dollar A mini-track from McSweeney's of maximum charm.

Mosh Momken Abadon (instrumental) Another JL instrumental, only this is actually a cover of an Egyptian pop song.

Token Back to Brooklyn This is actually a hidden track on one of our albums, but I'm not going to tell you how or where it is hidden.

Disappointing Show This is from a live show at Columbia University in NYC. We had a new stage tech (for one day) who neglected to plug anything in before we walked on stage- leading to perhaps the most humbling show start of our humbling careers. Things went downhill from there with power failures and electronic disasters. This spontaneously written song captures the magic of the disappointment!

Oranges Testimonial A little spoken word piece about how much we love the Chopping Block. Ultimately as unimportant as the previous track, but we think it is worth saving from rock oblivion.