John Linnell

From Academic Kids

For the English artist born 1792, see John Linnell (1792)

John Sidney Linnell (b. June 12, 1959), musician, is known primarily as one half of the enduring rock duo They Might Be Giants; In addition to singing and songwriting, he plays accordion, saxophone, and keyboards for the group.

Linnell co-founded They Might Be Giants in 1982 with high school friend and musical collaborator John Flansburgh. While the two split singing and songwriting duties (roughly) in half, Linnell's songs enjoyed the most commercial success in their early years: singles like "Don't Let's Start" and "Ana Ng" introduced the band to college radio, and they made waves on the Billboard charts in 1990 with "Birdhouse in Your Soul."

Persistent themes in Linnell's lyrics include aging, substance abuse, delusional behavior, bad relationships, and the personification of inanimate objects. Conversely, most of the accompanying melodies are extremely catchy and upbeat.

Since 1994, Linnell has done some solo work: in that year he released the State Songs EP, which he expanded to a full-length album in 1999. The EP and album's concept is intentionally misleading: U.S. states feature prominently in the title and chorus of each song, but have very little to do with their actual narratives: "Montana", for instance, is about the insane ramblings of somebody who is about to die; "Idaho" explores a famous rock story in which John Lennon, having consumed hallucinogenic drugs, believed he could drive his house; "South Carolina" is about getting rich off of a bicycle accident.

Other side-projects include the limited-release House of Mayors EP in 1996, and playing the accordian on David Byrne's 2004 effort, Grown Backwards.

As of 2005, he was married and had one child, a son named Henry. Henry appeared as a performer on They Might Be Giants February 2005 children's release Here Come the ABCs.

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