150 Favorite Songs, #146: She’s An Angel, They Might Be Giants
They Might Be Giants’ third studio album was Flood, a masterpiece from beginning to end. It came out in 1990, when I was eight. If I remember correctly, my mom heard it on NPR, bought the cassette, and I promptly claimed it as an eternal favorite. I brought Particle Man to a third grade P.E. class where everyone was supposed to bring their favorite dance song. Of course, everyone else brought, like, New Kids On The Block, and (of course) no one danced to Particle Man (because 1. who are They Might Be Giants?! 2. I was a weirdo and 3. even I have no idea why I thought anyone could dance to that song), so my teacher thought I was fucking with her and made me dance to it by myself.
It was a few years later when I went to go see my first show ever — a double whammy of geekiness because it was They Might Be Giants AND I went with my D.C. dialup “internet” friends from the BBS I frequented, International House of Kumquats. When I went to the show, I’m pretty sure I was still wearing out my copy of Flood and had barely scratched the surface of earlier and later TMBG. But hearing songs like Ana Ng live convinced me that I needed to dive headfirst into the entire discography of my then favorite band.
So I did, and She’s An Angel became my favorite song of the entire TMBG oeuvre pretty much as soon as I heard it. This song summarizes everything great about this band: Yes, it’s funny, quirky, and surreal. It’s also poignant, self-effacing, and romantic. TMBG actually does bittersweet love songs very well — on Flood, there’s Lucky Ball and Chain, an uptempo diddy about a long-suffering wife walking out and leaving her husband realizing how much he took her for granted. That song is cute on a casual listen; if you focus on the words it may actually make you cry.
She’s An Angel is another hard-hitter from a band that most people think just sings songs for kids. She’s An Angel is Side A Track 1 for a mix tape I’ve been building in my head for a decade that’s comprised of all the songs I ever wished were written by/about/for me. She’s An Angel is one of the most romantic songs my thirteen-year-old self had ever heard, and it’s also one of the most romantic songs my thirty-year-old self has ever heard.
The story of the song is: Boy meets girl at a dog show. Boy and girl fall in love at first sight. Boy and girl "race up and down the sidewalk twenty thousand million times." Boy realizes girl is an actual angel. Like, a real angel. Boy panics. "These things happen to other people. They don’t happen at all, in fact." Boy tries to visit God to talk about it. God is too busy. "When you’re following an angel does it mean you have to throw your body off a building?"
If anyone ever wants to call in to the radio station and dedicate it to me, I will marry them on. the. spot.