Caving In

♪ All the people are so happy now, their heads are caving in

I’m glad they are a snowman with protective rubber skin… ♫

There’s something that’s been bothering me about a lyric from a They Might Be Giants song.

The song is Nothing’s Gonna Change My Clothes and it’s the first line in the song. My problem with it is that it’s too ambiguous.

I’ve thought about it for a while, and I’ve narrowed-down three plausible interpretations of the line “the people are so happy now their heads are caving in”.

  1. “The people are so happy now. On an unrelated note, their heads are caving in.” There is no direct correlation between the people’s happiness and the caving in of their heads.
  2. “The people are so happy, now, that their heads are caving in.” In other words, the people’s heads are caving in as a result of their currently high levels of happiness.
  3. “The people are so happy now because their heads are caving in.” A reversal of 2; in this case, the people’s heads caving in causes them to be happy.

Further inspection of the liner notes of Then: The Earlier Years reveals that the lyric is written with a comma after the word “now”. This would suggest that interpretation 3 is incorrect. However, we are still left with two possible interpretations of the line. Are people really suffering from caved-in heads due to extreme joy? And what exactly is meant by “caving in”? Are their heads literally collapsing or are they merely suffering from debilitating headaches?

Moreover, why are they a snowman? And how?

Carrots to this. I’m done. ㋼

They Might Be Giants’ new album, Join Us, is released on the 19th of July; a preview EP is available now. They will be appearing in London at KOKO on July the 15th. See you there.

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