"When you want to be right on, you need to know what's going on" ......a message from Bar/None Records and some unauthorized observations about "Purple Toupee," the newest They Might Be Giants single and video.
"Purple Toupee" is broad (and brilliant) political satire, told by a person who grew up in America in the Sixties. It dimly: and without fail, incorrectly: recalls some of the decade's great political movements, figures and events. By mistelling and muddling history, it serves as an ironic reminder of present day apathy and as a subtle enjoinder that we must learn from the past and educate ourselves to the many connections between the political struggles of 20 years past and those of today.
Specific references include:
"about some lady named Selma and some Blacks": Martin Luther King, Jr. led a famous non-violent march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, Mississippi in 1963, to dramatize the systematic denial to Blacks of the right to vote. The marchers were violently dispersed by gun-toting, riot-equipped police.
"Johnson's Wax": President Johnson, of course; a brand of floor wax; and, knowing TMBG's penchant for World's Fair-abilia probably a backhanded reference to the ultra-groovy Johnson's Wax Pavillion at the 1964 World's Fair in New York. Psychoscribblers may conclude from the "Don't Let's Start" video (shot at what's left of 1964 World's Fair grounds in Flushing Meadow, Queens) and the World's Fair and Dupont Pavillion references in "Ana Ng," that the 1964 New York World's Fair was one of the resonant events of John Linnell's childhood.
"the Book Depository": the Texas Book Depository in Dallas, Texas, from where Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly fired the bullet that killed President John F. Kennedy
"crowned the King of Cuba": many reports have tied Kennedy's assassination to right-wing Cubans, whom of course, saw their beloved dictator (and U.S. ally) Battista desposed by Fidel Castro in the late Fifties.
"Chinese people were fighting in the park": besides the Tiananmen Square prophecy (We swear we saw newsreels out of China on ABC's "Nightline" showing a demonstrator in a TMBG snowman t-shirt), possibly a reference to Chinese-sounding People's Park in Berkeley, California. In 1969, the college town saw its worst ever riot when police tried to forcibly eject people from an impromptu park, built on an empty lot where the University of California had two years earlier town down low income housing in preparation for building a dormatory.
"Martin X": a composite of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, two Black civil rights leaders assassinated in the 1960's. They were not mad when they (the government):
"outlawed bell bottoms": a Sixties' fashion trend, the bell bottom trouser was never outlawed (although many elementary and high school dress codes forbid students from wearing them).
"Free the Expo '67": another World's Fair reference, to Expo '67, the massively hyped but financially disastrous Canadian exposition of 1967-68. "Expo 67" sounds much like many of the popular nicknames for famous groups of defendants standing trial in the Sixties largely as a result of their political beliefs. (i.e., the Chicago Eight, the Panther 21).
Now all that's left to do is up to you! Make MTV and your local radio station listen to the voice of the people and exercise your freedom of choice! The video of "Purple Toupee" premiered on "120 Minutes" July 2nd, and the Giants will be hosting "Post Modern" the week of July 10. So demand to see "Purple Toupee" today!
Call Dial MTV - 1-800-342-5688- NOW!