In Which I Officially Cover They Might Be Giants

This blog originally posted at


Here I am on a record called Mink Car Cover and it’s now on sale!

If you are a fan of They Might Be Giants I hope you know their great album Mink Car.  It’s canon for me and my family.  I was thrilled to be invited to record a cover of the song “Hovering Sombrero” (with extra accordion) for this officially approved album cover project. All proceeds go to the FDNY Foundation.  You can read more at and see all the other amazing artists involved!

The story goes like this:  ten years ago They Might Be Giants happened to have an album slated for release on September 11th, 2001.  As you know, they didn’t have quite the release they were planning on.  This is a fundraising project surrounding the tenth anniversary of 9/11, celebrating the music in a positive spirit.  And it’s aimed at supporting the FDNY Foundation, the official not-for-profit foundation of the Fire Department of New York.  Money goes to support and train emergency responders.  (I repeat:  this is a fundraising project; nobody benefits financially from this except the FDNY Foundation.)

I had to record this track while I was on the road.  It was quite the endeavour.  I snagged the guitar (courtesy of Scott Barkan), scratch vocals, percussion, banjo and accordion parts in Seattle in my brother’s sewing room.  My brother is a tailor, and also a completely awesome artistic partner in crime.  (More photos here!)

Brother played accordion for a long time.
Closet recording gives you Indie Cred.

I sent the track to my Dad in Austin.  He played me some pianos and sent them back to me.  I intercepted them in San Diego, edited the whole piece together during San Diego Comic Con in my hotel room  And then — foreseeing no chance to get into a studio anytime soon — I recorded the final vocals in the closet with some coats, after a signing at the California Browncoats booth and just before I had to check out of the room and go sing a concert in hall 32A-B.  (It was dark in that closet.  It took me a few takes to remember that I had a music stand light in my luggage so I could quit bumping into the closet rail in the dark.  Every take of the vocals began and ended with the sound of the closet door opening and closing.)

I uploaded the session to my engineer, Bryan Ray (in Austin) from the home of some artists I was meeting for the first time in Pasadena.  He worked on it while I disappeared into the Sierra mountains for a couple days, and we met up to do the final mix on the track when I came to Texas to play some shows.  We submitted just hours before the deadline.  Now you know how a song gets put together while I’m touring: without sleep.

Mink Car happens to be one of my favorite Giants albums ever.  Now that the final product is here I’m VERY excited.  Also appearing on the album are MC Frontalot, Molly Lewis, The Doubleclicks, Mike Lombardo, Ryan North, Devo Spice, Hank Green, and lots more awesome folks who feel (like me) that Giants albums are to be revered a little more than your average record.

It also felt right to me to do this, because sometimes the best response to a big bad world is to make art.  Sometimes it’s the only response, actually.  So I hope you’ll give the album (or my track) a listen or a download at

Hovering Sombrero!