Cabin fever cure: Call the 1980s
Reach out and touch the past
I’m old enough to remember a time before we had to stay home all the time. Of course, we all are – it was only two weeks ago. However, I’m also old enough to remember the ’80s, and the strangely inventive early marketing efforts of Brooklyn-based They Might Be Giants, and their project, Dial-a-Song.
Starting nearly 35 years ago, TMBG – John Linnell and John Flansburgh – set up an answering machine fans could call to hear new songs, snippets of unfinished work, and other odds and ends. It lived on for many years, into a time when the band’s popularity and profile grew. But you have to ask yourself: when’s the last time you saw or used an old cassette tape answer machine? The answer, I’m going to presume, is ‘not anytime recently.’
On quarantine day 8 or 9, then, I gave it a shot. Could I reach back through time? Could I transport myself back to 1985 via Dial-a-Song?
Me: *dials the phone* (844) 387-6962.
Answering machine somewhere: *picks up*
Linnell: “Somebody’s here on business shooting mesmeric glances, across a crowded bazaar.”
It worked. I was being serenaded, I didn’t have to worry about social distancing, and though it probably isn’t an actual answering machine, it certainly felt like it.
So, give the kids the phone and set them loose. You may know TMBG from the days of “Lincoln,” “Flood” or “Apollo 18,” but your kids (and you) may also know them as the guys who wrote the theme to “The Mickey Mouse Club House,” among dozens of other kid-friendly tunes.
The original demo of ‘Hot Dog’ from ‘The Mickey Mouse Club House’