Can't Keep Johnny Down

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"Can't Keep Johnny Down"
TMBG Can't Keep Johnny Down promo.jpg
Single by They Might Be Giants
from the album Join Us
Released May, 2011
Format CD single
Recorded 2010 and 2011 in Manhattan
Genre Alternative rock
Length 2:22
Label Idlewild Recordings/ Rounder Records
Songwriter(s) John Flansburgh, John Linnell
Producer(s) They Might Be Giants and Pat Dillett
They Might Be Giants singles chronology
"I'm Impressed"
"Can't Keep Johnny Down"
"I'm Impressed"
"Can't Keep Johnny Down"

"Can't Keep Johnny Down" is a song by American alternative rock band They Might Be Giants. The song was released as a promotional single from the band's 2011 album, Join Us.[1] Like all the artwork surrounding the Join Us album, the cover art and labels for the disc were designed by the Office of Paul Sahre.[2]


"Can't Keep Johnny Down" was written by John Linnell. Linnell claims that the song is not a biographical song about himself or fellow band member John Flansburgh, though the character's name was selected intentionally, in order to create a contrast between his personality and that of the two Johns.[3] John Flansburgh describes the song as "...a song of defiance. It's an incredibly catchy song. That's a very nice, bittersweet concoction of a very bitchy lyric with an incredibly sunny arrangement. It's sort of Brit-pop." He adds that he found the song to be a very strong track.[4] Flansburgh also said, of the titular character, "The lyric is about a guy who seems like he's got some mixed emotions about the world. He's sort of reading everything in a hostile way."[5]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Can't Keep Johnny Down" was released by the band via YouTube on October 4, 2011. It was the band's first live action music video since 2004. The video was directed by Brad and Brian Palmer and stars Rip Torn. John Linnell and John Flansburgh are not featured in the music video.[6]

They Might Be Giants also held a contest for fans to create an unofficial music video for the song.[7] About 100 amateur videos were submitted.[8] The winner and several runners-up were selected by John Hodgman, who also wrote up his favourite videos on his website. The winning video was created by Mohit Jaswal, Eduardo Urueana, and Justin Dean, who received a prize of $1,000. Runners-up received free pizzas.[9] Both the official video and the winning music video were included as a video downloads with purchases of the They Might Be Giants rarities compilation, Album Raises New And Troubling Questions, from the band's website. The videos were also collected for the band's 2013 music video compilation, Them Ain't Big Eye Ants.


They Might Be Giants[10]
Backing band[10]
  • They Might Be Giants and Pat Dillett - producers
  • Jon Altschuler and Greg Thompson - engineers
  • Pat Dillett - mixing


  1. ^ "Can't Keep Johnny Down" (album notes). Idlewild Recordings. 2011.
  2. ^ Flansburgh, John (18 July 2011). "They Might Be Giants' John Flansburgh: The Catskills Is The New Williamsburg" (Interview). Interview with John Del Signore. Gothamist. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  3. ^ Linnell, John (2011-06-22). "Q&A: Talking new album, longevity in the music biz and Bach with They Might Be Giants' John Linnell" (Interview). Interview with Marissa Gallo. Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on June 26, 2011. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  4. ^ Flansburgh, John (2011-03-14). "They Might Be Giants Return to 'Adult' Rock on 'Join Us,' Praise Teachers and Unions" (Interview). Interview with Dan Reilly. Spinner. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  5. ^ Flansburgh, John (2011-07-05). "Interview: John Flansburgh (of They Might Be Giants)" (Interview). Interview with Joe Marvilli. Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  6. ^ "They Might Be Giants - Can't Keep Johnny Down - Official Video". YouTube. 2011-08-03. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  7. ^ Contest announcement on YouTube. Accessed 2012-08-04.
  8. ^ Flansburgh, John (2011-07-14). "PLEASE POST YOUR...". Facebook. Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  9. ^ Hodgman, John (2011-07-18). "Can't Keep Hodgman Down". Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  10. ^ a b c Join Us (album notes). Idlewild Recordings/Rounder Records. 2011.

External links[edit]