1001 Songs Challenge,  1990s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #730: Birdhouse in Your Soul (1990)

On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.

My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.

I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.

So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…


They Might Be Giants – Birdhouse in Your Soul (1990)

Birdhouse in Your Soul

” Birdhouse in Your Soul” is a song by American alternative rock band They Might Be Giants. It was released in late 1989 through Elektra Records as the lead single from the album , making the single the band’s first release on a major label.


Lyrics (via Genius)


We’re leaving the UK today, dear reader, and making our way to the US and to Brooklyn in New York. They Might Be Giants were formed in 1982 by John Flansburgh and John Linnell and specialised as an alternative rock duo and do to this day though they have branched out since the 1990s to take on a backing band. When we join the duo in 1990 it is with the release of their third album – Flood – and from that record 1001 Songs have gone with the single – Birdhouse in Your Soul

This peculiar track is written from the perspective of a nightlight and what it observes and does for those around it. The nightlight describes itself as being a friend, lighting people’s way, but in the end it really isn’t a friend as it is an inanimate object. The title refrain of “birdhouse in your soul” seems to represent the nightlight’s importance to a person, providing a safe sanctuary within their soul, usually for birds to take refuge but here meaning a safe haven for the people the nightlight is in close proximity to. In the end, it seems a trivial and mundane subject but it is given extensive and profound meaning here. 

They Might Be Giants are another group on our list who have continued a long career but have had only minimal impact when it comes to the charts. Birdhouse in Your Soul proved popular upon release and in 2001 the group would contribute the song, Boss of Me, which became the theme song for Malcolm in the Middle (2000 – 2006). The group have released more than 20 albums and continue to perform to this day but this early song remains one of their highlights.


Favourite songs so far:

The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)

Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)

The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)

The Doors – The End (1967)

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)

Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977)

Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now (1978)

Ultravox – Vienna (1980)

The Smiths – How Soon Is Now? (1984)

Tracy Chapman – Fast Car (1988)

My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I hope you enjoy your visit to All is Ephemeral.

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