In the late 90s, both of the Johns from They Might Be Giants released solo projects, Flansburgh with his band Mono Puff and Linnell with his State Songs concept album. While their complementary styles are normally melded together on TMBG albums, it is interesting to hear them pulled apart in these two projects, making it clear what each brings to the TMBG creative mix. Flansburgh's style is funky and eclectic, while Linnell is much more focused on melody and story.
Today's Mono Puff song, "The Devil Went Down to Newport," comes from their 1996 album Unsupervised. On this journey, ol' Scratch is still looking for souls to steal, but this time he's not fiddling for them, he's surfing. The video below isn't the best quality--it was recorded from MTV's 120 Minutes--but it's the only one I can find of the original video made for the song. It's pretty cool--looks like the devil is having a big head day!
John Linnell claims his idea for his State Songs concept album came "as a way of avoiding having to come up with song titles. I suddenly had fifty song titles and I could write fifty songs based on that." While each of the 16 songs on the album (except the theme song) does bear the name of a U.S. state, the subjects of the songs are not strictly, or even remotely, about the states for which they are named. For instance, "Montana" seems to be the code name for someone's injured leg, "West Virginia" is concentric in its form, and, as mentioned earlier, "Iowa" is a witch. There she goes now, casting a spell on Vermont! Girl, if your broom don't fly, I'm gonna buy you a Dustbuster.