Andrew Horowitz glances side to side on a TV screen.

let us sing.

Some thoughts on almost every Tally Hall song (and some others) written by Andrew Horowitz.

MMMM / G&E / sketches / Other

MMMM

Good Day

To me, this song is the face of Tally Hall. To be fair, that's probably because of the music video. (Which is unparalleled in my mind, by the way. Every frame is a masterpiece and it's information-packed without being overwhelming. It's kind of a perfect introduction to the band. 10/10, worth getting beat up after dusk in a public park for.)
Despite being diametrically opposed on the color wheel, red and green tie have some interesting songwriting similarities. The cryptic, wandering, atmospheric lyrics (though red's word choice goes disorientingly complex where green goes eerily simple) and different "movements" within a song are on display here. I've heard the lyrics described as "predictive-text-like", but after seeing an early version of the lyrics I feel like their robotic effect might be the result of editing them to sound more impersonal. Notable changes I spotted:

we can go and take a walk or something like that
if it snows or pours or birds (???) from the sky i'll give you my hat
-
he never liked to run or walk or sleep or eat
he even thought that everybody thought that he's some kind of freak
-
birds & bees & television, you & me and x ray vision, chocolates, flowers, extra hours (???) and no more powers, telephones & stupid games, periods & exclamation marks!

The "birds and bees" outro is without a doubt my favorite part of the song. A very nice person I met on Reddit once tried explaining how cool this section is from a music theory perspective... something about how it's either 3 (I-IV-II-V) transitions or 6 (I-IV) transitions, key center shifting the whole time. That's mostly beyond me but I know it sounds cool! Aside from all the technicalities, it's just super catchy and inviting. A friend once compared the opening portion to All Star.
This song won a scholarship for Andrew. Good! It deserves it.

Taken for a Ride

I'm a very visual person, so maybe I'm agains swayed by the music video. But I tend to think of Taken For A Ride as "basically Good Day, but I like it 5% less".
The song form is something like ABABCABCCD to Good Day's AABCBCDE structure. It's a minute and a half longer than Good Day, and feels way more repetitive, because each A-section repeats the same melody 4 times. There's some nice lyrics in there, but they're even more cryptic than the clearly intentional nonsense of Good Day, and they're kind of lost underneath the vocoder effect. The song tries to offset the repeat with a grand, cinematic buildup, but it just gets to be too sonically busy for me and the last ABC section gets mushy in my brain.
So far I've just been listing things I don't like. I do like this song! But all my praise for it is stuff I also like about Good Day. Not a bad song, it just has some really stiff competition. My favorite part, musically, is the sudden return to simplicity in "actor with his world renown was thinking about his last real day of silence", particularly that pristine pause before "was it over?" My favorite lyric is

all feeling now, he took his bow and left the stage of time
with no answers
to no questions.

Two Wuv

This song is a "NO WAY, ANDREW WROTE IT?" moment for pretty much everyone when they find out. The song's bizarre, creepy humor fits right into the Tally Hall wheelhouse, but in a way that you'd expect from red or yellow tie. It's a song that almost requires the full band anyways—I just can't imagine Andrew's soft voice landing the joke. Even the Internet Show episode based around this song has no mention that it was Andrew's idea, letting Zubin shoulder the Olsen twin jokes on his own.
It might also be that musically, this song is pretty conventionally rock. It's got one powerful, memorable riff and sticks with it. The melody and rhythm always reminds me of Island in the Sun by Weezer, which came out before MMMM, to the point where I wonder if it was intentional. The one part that sticks out as unmistakably Andrew's handiwork is the bridge, with the interesting musical transition in/out and the lyrics being childishly simple to the point of being mildly unnerving:

i know that
life without you & you would be
sad
and i know it'd be bad

Now that I've gotten to interveiw Andrew briefly, I can confidently debunk the rumor that this song was written pre-Tally Hall in childhood earnest. He even said that this is the only song he sort of regrets writing for the band! He wouldn't say why, but my guess is it's the tongue-in-cheek creepy misogyny when so much of his other work is so friendly. I have a theory about why the stalker-ish jokes would feel much less funny nowadays, but I'll settle for "he grew up" as an explanation.

The Whole World And You

A Toy Orchestra song! The big band sound of the recording preserves the pure chaotic joy of the original sing-along format. More songs should have tuba. Apparently it was written in about an hour, and it feels like it, but not in a bad way. There's scientifically nothing wrong with this song. It's short, it's simple, it's perfect.
The lyrics have kept me guessing for a while. The spirit of the song and the instrumentation feels so genuine, but the music video reveals a strange political bent. It's been suggested that this song is a parody of a concession speech. It's a credit to the music video that it made me rethink my original assumptions about the song's meaning like that. Shoutout to the director, Frankie Cordero, whoever that is. (Update: after googling, he's part of the Jim Henson company! Cool!)
But is that interpretation just the byproduct of an interesting video? The only place I detect sarcasm in the song's delivery is

i've even written this whole song about you
and not about me
not about me

What keeps me from dismissing it outright is that Andrew is known to write "sweet" lyrics ironically (Two Wuv) and obscure political commentaries (Misery Fell). I just hear his cheerful lisp and immediately want to take every word at face value. I chose not to ask him about what it means. Getting a straight answer would be disappointing at this point.

Dream

Gee, every single one of his songs on MMMM has a music video, doesn't it? Good.
Full disclosure: I was a choir and a capella kid in high school. My first exposure to this band was through an a capella cover I saw live. I love Tally Hall as an a capella group first and a rock band second, and boy, does this song pander to me in that way. I have nothing intelligent to say about this song other than that I like it, and I will never be over the primary color guys' vocal blend. It makes me fantasize about being in Andrew Horowitz's shoes as he composed this, knowing that every chord would be interpreted by this angelic choir. I love how he could take his pick of the band's vocal palette to serve each song when writing with Tally Hall.

G&E

Misery Fell

I really, really like Misery Fell. It starts simple and builds up more effectively than Taken For A Ride, probably because it starts more modestly and therefore can go further without feeling like it's pushing it. The la la-la la-las have a wonderful, giddy building feeling.
The lyrics have a political bent much clearer than Whole World and You. It seems to be, vaguely, about community-focused political reform, and maybe prison abolition? Something about replacing a punitive system with community. As always, the sincerity of the overwhelmingly cute, sweet lyrics remains a little ambiguous, more so because their writer isn't singing them. (I always remember a rather cruel review I read which calls Zubin's vocals bored-sounding. I think that's dumb. His vocal delivery is great for the already subdued song, and you'd better believe that Zubin values every chance he gets to sing lead.)
In classic Tally Hall fashion, we again have an unexpected coda that feels like it ends abruptly enough to leave you on the edge of your seat. As I've said before, I don't know much music theory, but I do know enough to know that something funky is going on there as the key center changes something like 6 times in a row, crawling incrementally up and down. Singing along to that bit is such a delightful challenge until you get the hang of it.

all the fresh living flowers
that spend all their hours
outside in the rain
just so happy you came
from so far for so long
with a welcoming song just to say,
to say...

...to say hello and welcome you good day that is my name, perhaps?

You

One of the reasons it took me so long to realize Andrew was my favorite is because his distinctive voice lends itself to the softest, sincerest songs, and "low-energy" is not my strong suit. Love song with solo piano is a notch or two above sadboy with acoustic guitar in my book, but only a notch. The first couple of times I heard this song, I pretty much entirely tuned it out because it wasn't up to my default energy level. And then I got into the habit of skipping it entirely.
The choice made in the lyric booklet to forego the Good & Evil capitalization scheme in favor of andrew's all lowercase but fully punctuated style vindicated me, I thought: even Tally Hall knew it didn't quite fit into the rest of the album.

This song still isn't a favorite, just due to personal taste. But I feel like I can appreciate it more for what it is now. The song asks politely for your attention instead of demanding it. I'm glad I finally slowed down to give it the attention it deserves.

It's lulling, but not quite predictable enough to be boring. It's definitely written by a clasically trained pianist. I enjoy the moment of dissonance coming out of the bridge before it resolves back. None of the words particularly capture me (to be honest I barely process them) but like a lot of his lyrics, they speak kindly and personally to the listener and seem to invite you on a trip across some larger landscape.
I find myself listening to the vocal delivery more than the words themselves. His singing is so different from the polished, produced honey-smooth blend of the main trio. It audibly shakes a little and stretches thin on high notes. It reminds me of the feeling of a moth landing on your hand: very gentle, delicate, fluttery. Easily brushed off, but nice to hold if you have a moment.

Fate of the Stars

I really thought Andrew had more than 3 songs on G&E. Maybe this is why I like MMM more as an album. Not only that, but he is severely backloaded into the last 15 minutes.
Like "You", this is a song that I just didn't get at first. I have even more difficulty with long songs than I have with slow songs. Then one night I listened to this song lying down in the dark and it blew my entire mind.

Like several other songs here, it starts with a verse/chorus structure and after only 2 repeats goes into a bridge and then an unexpected outro without ever returning to the chorus. The sections of this song are so distinct they're almost "movements".
Movement 1 begins with solo piano, as if to announce itself as an Andrew number. God only knows what the lyrics are supposed to mean, but they serve more just to carry the fantastic energy of the chanting and tempo buildup and god do I love that vocal blend. The resolution is so satisfying, the sound and the meaning coming together:

no control pumping heart
button pressed mind in art
mind con trol
mind re start

Movement 2's insane arpeggio always reminds me of one of those spinning LED toys. It's probably the coolest sound in the entire TH discography. Then there's that beautiful, ominous piano interlude. Between this bit and the lyrical theme, I'll eat my hat if this song didn't have a hand in inspiring The Mind Electric. (Sometimes I troll newer fans by calling The Mind Electric a ripoff of Fate of the Stars, which I don't actually think is true. I just like to start a bit of controversy to get people thinking about how this slightly forgotten track did a lot of things that the more popular track did, first, and cooler.)
Movement 3 closes out the album with some nice, soft Andrew vocals again. If you see me suppressing a yawn, it's a yawn of love, I swear. Again, in a compositional trick common to both red and green tie, the outro seems to cut off before its resolution.

sketches


Miss Melody

The prototypical Andrew solo song. The lyrics are cutesy enough to put off a cynical listener, but on slightly closer listen reveal themselves to be mysteriously sad in the a way that only gentle, simple things can be. They have a very disconnected rambling run-on sentence quality. I know I keep talking about his voice, but few other grown men could pull off that soft sincerity and make such childish lyrics feel honest.
Musically, this song is built rather simply compared to his Tally Hall offerings. The plodding, staccato styling to the backing track can get on my nerves a bit (and does at a couple places in this album). I don't know what's up with the metallic percussion that sounds like someone tapping on a tin plate with a fork. It's a little loud, but I think I like it. My second favorite bit is the descending harp between phrases. My favorite bit is the resolution from the cacophonous bridge back to the simplicity of the outro verse and the very abrupt end to the song, as though the tail end were simply snipped off.

she casted a spell but it goes away it's for a very happy day
miss melody stopped appearing
on a monday

HEY YOU!

My favorite song on the album from the start. I am predictable and high-energy, and this is the highest-energy song on this quiet, gentle album, right from the UNCHARACTERISTICALLY ENTHUSIASTIC TITLE! The bouncy piano line gets stuck in my head sometimes, ricocheting off the inside of my brain.
Nothing seems to lurk under the surface of these lyrics. Hello, I'm happy to see you. Well, I'm delighted to be invited! The vocals that I thought were a woman are actually Rob Cantor (hi yellow tie!) on backup. It's a really nice mix of the two very different voices.

The one bit that gives me chills every time for god knows what reason is the line "it's best if you believe".

Hummingbird

Once again, I fight my brain's impatience with soft, slow songs to appreciate this song properly. The rhythm is the first thing my mind latches onto, in 5/4, and the prominent vocal harmonies. (Mmm, vocal harmonies....) Yet again I wish I knew music words so I could describe the fascinating ways that the song wanders between a very simple, cheery melody and brief, unexpected dissonances. The synth flute solo in the middle feels very artificial in a way that's odd in a song about the natural world.

His voice usually washes over me without the meaning sinking in, leaving me puzzling over what "colored-sad" means. Looking at the lyrics now, it seems to be a gentle sort of existential crisis, considering themes (of time, loneliness, love, death) that Tally Hall so often visit. This band always seemed to be obsessed with the passing of time and in love with the strange, organic machinations of the universe. Here we see one of the sources of that. I'm tempted to say that the lyrics

think we'll find tomorrow?
do you think tomorrow's different than today?

suggest a direct connection to the song Tomorrow and Today, but that might be a reach. Tally Hall men like their cross-song thematic motifs.

Daisy Fingers

This is 6/8 time, I think. This song (like Lemons & Pears) tends to be people's entry point into edu, I think. I definitely remember hearing it pre-enlightenment and all but rolling my eyes at the opening lyrics:

i once knew a girl who had daisies for fingers, grew lollipops straight from her hair
she traveled by pony and never looked lonely my friend she'd insist without care

It's in the chorus where the more attention-grabbing stuff begins. Theremin, anyone? Tolling bells in the bridge, holding out just a tad too long? That's enough to make most people take a closer listen to those deceptively smiley lyrics and detect the air of loss, of garbled memory recalled through rose-colored glasses.

An interesting side note—Andrew made a tiktok in 2020 where he mentioned a girl he met at a summer camp when he was twelve. He said she had green hair, and unprompted handed him a page from a book by Frank Zappa about how anything can be art if you put a frame around it. He still has that page, framed, on his wall. Maybe not a literal connection to the song, but a thematic one to be sure.

Have a Nice Day (Interludinal)

I love this song, for a lot of the same reasons I love Kaleidoskull. That's sort of all I have to say.

Lemons and Pears

TOY PIANO! (AN: if u don't like toy piano then get da hell out of here!) Another old Toy Orchestra number previously titled "Misfortune", and like The Whole World and You, I think it does a good job upping the quality without sacrificing the fun, playful, singalong energy. Again it falls into the staccato, plodding trap of Miss Melody, but you can't exactly use the sustain pedal on a toy piano. The clarinet(? it may be another synth) line, particularly when it's arpeggiating in the second verse, helps.

Much has been made of the gunshot sound effects punctuating each verse. I completely condone people coming up with edgy grimdark interpretations of green tie songs (if only to keep up with the market flooded with grimdark red tie song interps) but I think it's even better and leagues funnier when you notice that the Toy Orchestra version contains a rubber duck squeak in those same places. If you want to know what my ideal music-writer's philosophy is, it's that sometimes a song needs a rubber duck squeak, but if you can't get a rubber duck, a gunshot will do nicely.

At the End

My most immediate and petty complaint about this song is that this song is not at the end of the album. I think of it as such an ending that I always forget Nowhere Else exists entirely.

The theme of black helium balloons that 2012-release sketches had is used a lot in this video. I think it fits the album's energy well. There's something fragile about it, something strangely dark and eerie even in its bobbing, carefree friendliness.

Nowhere Else

I'll be honest: this is my least favorite edu song, and I tend to skip it.

The live cheering intro is... strange. It adds to an oddly polished, rock-song feel that works for yellowtie solo album stuff but not very well here. It sounds like it was made for mainstream radio compared to the rest of this album. Edu songs balance on a very fine point of being sweet without being eyerollingly insincere, but that depends on their honest, personal connection with the listener. Putting them in a mass-appeal pop-rock shell like this one makes the lyrics feel contrived and eye-rollingly sappy. It's too bad; this couplet in particular summarizes the the edu lyricism philosophy well otherwise:

i find myself with simple rhymes
i keep them close in complex times

Maybe one day I will wake up and suddenly understand this song for what it is, and love it then, but I don't know if that will ever happen.

The Rainbow Connection

The Rainbow Connection, eh. Playing on my love of the Muppets, are you? Listen, you can't beat Kermit. But the Muppets' iconic version means the listener is primed to accept a gentle, unique vocal delivery.

The key change is, as in the original, insufferably cheesy. But if I can't excuse cheese in THIS song, then where? By that point in the song, I'm engaged with the muffled voices and distorted samples going on in the background anyhow. The electronic sound and the samples feel a bit proto-H:Ptii in a way, though I know he didn't work on that album. It's ethereal in a similar way. Props to the gong sound marking the end, too.

Just need to say this somewhere: I want to hear an edu cover of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. I think it would be absolutely fantastic.

Other

Grandpa is Hiding

This might well be my favorite edu song. It balances the central paradox of something heartfelt and cute and something deeply disturbing on a razor's edge. The first time I heard it, I found it adorable but sad, reminding me of the beautiful scent of old buildings and old instruments and the way my accordion bellows smell, musty and comfortable. The SECOND time I heard it, my mind suddenly went to a very literal Cabinet Man-like situation, and BOY did that change the experience!

I love this! I love the duality. I love the dissonance. The vocal filter. The subdued electromechanical oom-pah-pah rhythm. The weird crackling outro. It's about objects feeling haunted in a loving way. It's about missing a family member you never knew. Maybe it's even about finding a body hidden inside a crumbling old instrument. I can take it however I feel it in the moment.
Since this is sort of a secret-exclusive song (sorry, look, it was up on TallyAll so I wanted to talk about it) the lyrics aren't anywhere online. I'll type them up here for you:

grandpa is hiding inside of his organ not letting me in
been there just waiting before i was born for someone to break in
he might be gone but i smell him inside
it's a hint of the attic he used to reside
i know that forever he'll smile as a hammer strike down
for he has a jolly good sound

grandpa is hiding inside of his organ not letting me in
been there just waiting while i formulated a path to get in
he might be gone but i know he's inside
lending me songs and i wish you'd [?]
i know that forever he'll smile as a hammer strike down
for he has a jolly good sound

Tomorrow and Today

This is a faster song, so it's interesting that it underwhelms me a bit. It has a fun buildup and everything, but it's a little repetitive and just doesn't make it into my top favorites. I like the last third best.
The lyrics are a familiarly green-tie sort of poetic clamor, picking a direction and wandering in it, difficult to pin down the starts or ends of thoughts or sentences. It has a very Tally Hall theme (if there is a theme?) and naming scheme (though one would expect it to be spelled with an ampersand there). Again, maybe this song will click for me one day, but at the moment, I haven't found something specific to love.


The Rainbow Connection (minor key)

With a lot of these songs I've been debating back and forth about when Andrew is aiming for sincerity and when he's intentionally using his gentle, childish image to unnerve. But this one is pretty straightforwards about it. The minor key. The underlighting. The black and white. The strobing effect. I love this a lot, actually, and wish this had a full version, because it's a really fun re-treading of the song.
Plus a theremin! And a toy piano, except the sound that's playing is definitely bells or something and not toy piano, so this video must be lip synch? And a keytar! I want one.

Perfect

Okay, Andrew only helped to write this one but I really love this song and wanted to talk about it, alright? Okay? Rob Cantor is a PERFECTLY LOVELY SONGWRITER and I make fun of him out of affection and the inclusion of this song on this page isn't meant to detract from Rob's contribution. Eddie don't @ me.

First off, some things that strike me as Andrew motifs: the synth flute, the very plodding rhythm, the slightly detuned background synths, the xylophone, the cascading upwards melody, the interesting chord transitions in the verses, the sweet-perhaps-to-the-point-of-irony lyrics, and some of the awkwardly simplistic wording. (I don't think Rob would ever write a sentance as disjointed as "if you took a boat to the middle of sea" on his own.)

you and i will always belong
so give a little sing to your song
don't be sad or scared at all
even if you can't recall, you're perfect in the way that you are

Of course, there's a lot of distinctive Rob sounds here too and I don't think I'd care about this song a fraction as much without them. Rob Cantor's voice makes everything sound like a showtune in a good way, the electric guitars and heavy drums lend some of that I'm Gonna Win driving power, and the angelic choir makes a perfect launching pad to start back into each verse with. Again I wonder about the irony level of the lyrics, but when the lyrics go through two hands and mouths before getting to me, I feel that any chance of me decoding a double meaning (if there is one) becomes impossibly small. So I love it for what it is, enthusiastic, off-kilter and unbalanced, loving, neurotic.

A reason I really like this song is that its tempo (87 BPM) makes it perfect to jump on the trampoline to, at least for someone my size on a trampoline my trampoline's size. It's an immensely joyful activity.

Special footnote: 1 N 1 S 2, aka the kazoo song, is not written by Andrew, it turns out! This almost makes me even more sad that it didn't end up being played more than maybe twice, because that would have made it the only song that he didn't write but did sing.

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