They Might Be Giants’ Sun Songs

They Might Be Giants recorded this song, Why Does the Sun Shine?, 15 years ago – you may remember seeing the video on Nickelodeon. It’s a cover of a children’s song recorded in the 1950s, with  lyrics taken from a 1951 children’s encyclopedia (thanks to This Might Be a Wiki for information on the source of the song).

They Might Be Giants were on Studio 360 the other day talking about the song. They’ve recently recorded an entire album of songs and videos about science for kids (which unfortunately doesn’t include Particle Man – but I guess that song’s not really very scientific). As they were putting it together, they had a scientist look at the accompanying music videos to make sure that there weren’t any details that would mislead people about the facts. Anyway, the scientist informed them that the lyric to Why Does the Sun Shine was not factually correct, so they wrote another song to correct the record. It’s called Why Does the Sun Really Shine?

Peer-reviewed pop.

Here are the lyrics to both songs:

Why Does the Sun Shine?

The sun is a mass of incandescent gas, a gigantic nuclear furnace,
where hydrogen is built into helium at a temperature of millions of degrees.

The sun is hot, the sun is not a place where we could live.
But here on earth there’d be no life without the light it gives.

We need its light.
We need its heat.
We need its energy.
Without the sun without a doubt there’d be no you or me.

The sun is a mass of incandescent gas, a gigantic nuclear furnace.
Where hydrogen is built into helium at a temperature of millions of degrees.

The sun is hot.
[It is so hot that everything on it is a gas, iron, copper, aluminum, and many others.]

The sun is large.
[If the sun were hollow, a million earths could fit inside, and yet the sun is only a Middle-sized star.]

The sun is far away.
[About 93,000,000 miles away, and that’s why it looks so small!]
But even when its out of sight, the sun shines night and day.

We need its light.
We need its heat.
We need its energy.
The sunlight comes from our own sun’s atomic energy.

[Scientists have found that the sun is a huge atom-smashing machine. The heat and light of the sun are caused by the nuclear reactions of hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon, and helium!]

The sun is a mass of incandescent gas, a gigantic nuclear furnace.
Where hydrogen is built into helium at a temperature of millions of degrees.

Why Does the Sun Really Shine?

The sun is a miasma
Of incandescent plasma
The sun’s not simply made out of gas
No, no, no

The sun is a quagmire
It’s not made of fire
Forget what you’ve been told in the past

(Plasma!)
Electrons are free
(Plasma!)
Fourth state of matter
Not gas, not liquid, not solid

The sun isn’t a red dwarf
I hope it never morphs
Into a supernova’d collapsed orb
Orb, orb, orb

The sun is a miasma
Of incandescent plasma
Forget what I was told by myself
Elf, elf, elf

(Plasma!)
Electrons are free
(Plasma!)
Fourth state of matter
Not gas, not liquid, not solid

(Plasma!)
Forget that song
(Plasma!)
They got it wrong
That thesis has been rendered invalid

~ by lolarusa on July 31, 2009.

2 Responses to “They Might Be Giants’ Sun Songs”

  1. So glad you are a fan of TMBG! &love your blog– I owe you thanks for introducing me to Sufjan Stevens.

    The song here is actually a cover of a song recorded by Tom Glazer in 1959. (So the lyrics did not come from an encyclopedia.

    http://tmbw.net/wiki/Main_Page

  2. I like this peer-reviewed pop.

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