‘The Edison Museum,’ They Might Be Giants

John Flansburgh, left, and John Linnell of They Might Be Giants.

John Flansburgh, left, and John Linnell of They Might Be Giants.

Early in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we looked at a song recorded by Suzanne Vega at Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange, using Edison’s original wax cylinder technology. And later, we included They Might Be Giants’ “Asbury Park (Stone Pony).”

Today we turn our attention to another They Might Be Giants song written about a place in New Jersey, and also recorded in West Orange, on wax cylinder: “The Edison Museum.” It was one of four songs recorded in this manner by TMBG in 1996, though written several years earlier.

The compound might have been closed on the day when TMBG’s John Linnell and/or the song’s co-writer, Brian Dewan, visited, because they describe it as “a dark and cobweb-covered hive of industry” — a haunted house, pretty much, where “folks drive in from out of town to gaze in amazement.”

These days, of course, the site is open to the public. And not really all that spooky, unless you have an extremely vivid imagination.

Below are two versions of the songs: One recorded on wax cylinder, and another using more modern technology.

The song originally came out on WFMU-FM’s 1991 album, Edisongs, and was credited to WFMU disk jockey Nick Hill (who sang lead) and Linnell. They Might Be Giants then released it on its 1999 album Long Tall Weekend and its 2002 children’s music collection, No! The wax cylinder version came out in 2001 as part of the TMBG Unlimited series.

New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.


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