Don't Let's Start

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"Don't Let's Start"
Single by They Might Be Giants
from the album They Might Be Giants
B-side "We're the Replacements", "When It Rains It Snows", "The Famous Polka"
Released November 2, 1987
Recorded 1987
Studio Dubway Studio, New York City
Genre Alternative rock
Length 2:36
Label Bar/None, Restless
Elektra (Re-issue)
Songwriter(s) John Flansburgh, John Linnell
Producer(s) Bill Krauss
They Might Be Giants singles chronology
"Don't Let's Start"
"(She Was A) Hotel Detective"
"Don't Let's Start"
"(She Was A) Hotel Detective"
1990 Elektra Re-issue
1990 Elektra Re-issue

"Don't Let's Start" is a popular song by alternative rock band They Might Be Giants, from their eponymous debut album They Might Be Giants. It was the first single released from the album, released as a maxi-single. The song is one of the band's most popular and well-known songs, despite failing to achieve significant commercial success. The single peaked at #94[1] on the Australian ARIA singles chart in 1988. It was later re-released by Elektra in 1990 after the success of the band's third album, Flood.

The single mix differs slightly from the album version, including an unprocessed tone for the synth bass, and a different drum take.

Lyrical content[edit]

The lyrics of "Don't Let's Start" include a number of dark, pointed statements as "everybody dies frustrated and sad, and that is beautiful," John Linnell has repeatedly insisted that some of its lyrical twists, though pondered extensively by fans, were constructed to complement the melody and are not always meaningful.[2] This is further stressed by Linnell's ambiguity, upon being asked about the origin of the song's obscure lyrics, replying "where did it come from? I made it up."[3]

Music video[edit]

A music video was produced for the song, and it found some success at that time on MTV. It was included on MTV's 1999 list of the "100 Greatest Music Videos Ever Made" at #89.[4] The video was directed by Adam Bernstein[5] and filmed inside the New York State Pavilion in Flushing Meadows Park, the site of the 1964 New York World's Fair. The band is featured wearing tall hats which consist of rolled-up carpets with fabric stapled to the outside. The video also features large cardboard cutouts of the face of William Allen White. His face also appears on the "Don't Let's Start" CD single, and has frequently been used in other contexts associated with TMBG.

In popular culture[edit]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Don't Let's Start" (single mix) – 2:35
  2. "We're The Replacements" – 1:55
  3. "When It Rains It Snows" – 1:36
  4. "The Famous Polka" – 1:32
1990 maxi-single re-release
  1. "Don't Let's Start" (single mix) – 2:35
  2. "Your Racist Friend" (remix) – 3:50
  3. "She's an Angel" – 2:37
  4. "Absolutely Bill's Mood" – 2:38
1990 single re-release
  1. "Don't Let's Start" (single mix) – 2:35
  2. "Letterbox" – 1:25
  3. "Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love" – 1:36


  1. ^ "Response from ARIA re: chart inquiry, received 2015-07-15". Imgur. Archived from the original on 2015-07-16. Retrieved 2015-10-03. 
  2. ^ Fresh Air interview with They Might Be Giants NPR. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
  3. ^ They Might Be Giants interview on Request Video, 1990.
  4. ^ MTV's 100 Greatest Music Videos Ever Made, 1999. Archived on Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  5. ^ Adam Bernstein Retrieved 2012-05-25.

External links[edit]