Book/CD Review: Bed Bed Bed - They Might Be Giants / Marcel Dzama

BedBedBed.jpgIn 2003, They Might Be Giants teamed up with illustrator Marcel Dzama to produce Bed Bed Bed, an illustrated book with an accompanying CD of four original TMBG songs. Why it took me, an avowed TMBG fan, until 2006 to get the collection, still puzzles me. But since we're in the season of gift-giving, it seemed like an appropriate time to review it.

The songs in the CD and book are supposedly ordered in a way to transition the reader to sleep. While I understand the theory (the first two songs are uptempo, the second two are not), it would work better if the first two songs weren't, well, quite so good. "Impossible," about a child who's been "impossible," deftly explores the double meaning of the word and mixes in new words such as "octo-fish." The best track, "Happy Doesn't Have to Have an Ending," is a good song to have in mind generally, but especially as you start thinking about bed. But the 12-minute CD doesn't finish up as well. The lullaby "Idlewild" is OK, but the reworked "Bed Bed Bed" from their No! disk is a misfire, as it replaces the awesome "A Day In The Life"-esque theatrics of the album version with a plodding tuba-accented version. I like tubas, even and especially in my They Might Be Giants, but this doesn't work so well.

Marcel Dzama's are artful and, as befitting a TMBG project, delightfully skewed (I particularly liked the pet octopus), but having the song lyrics draped across the page doesn't work so well for reading. (And I should note that the pages are regular paper pages, so those families accustomed to reading board books to their 2-year-old TMBG fans may have some difficulties here.)

Like most TMBG works, this is pretty much an all-ages affair, but I think it's most appropriate for kids ages 3 through 8. You can watch the "Idlewild" video at the GiantKid website.

It's hard to recommend the book just for the brief EP or just the drawings, but Bed Bed Bed would make one fine gift for a family with a They Might Be Giants fan in the household (no matter what age).