Thing a Week Redux

5 years ago Jonathan Coulton (that's me) started a project called Thing a Week, in which I released newly recorded song every Friday for a year. I'm replaying it in real time here with all the songs and the text from the original posts.

Jul 16

Thing a Week 42: Creepy Doll

I don’t know what’s going on with this one, I just decided earlier this week that it was time to write a song about a creepy doll. I was thinking about various 70s horror movies that scared the hell out of me when I was a kid. Back then you didn’t need to torture people with chainsaws and drills to make a scary movie, it was enough just to have a doll that kept showing up. Or maybe a clown. I couldn’t keep a straight face though, somewhere in the middle of the song the doll just becomes not so much creepy as annoying. And before you post it in the comments, yes I know that it sounds like Bacteria in the beginning – it’s the same Glock sound and the same key, and kind of the same music. Sue me. We’re on song number 42 here people…

Also, just a little merch plug: I’ve just added T-shirts for “Re: Your Brains” to my CafePress store. The image is the song lyrics typed in memo form decorated with a delightful blood spatter. Buy zombies, buy!

PRESENT DAY JOCO SAYS: Yes, well, victory of course. This has become an important part of the repertoire. I didn’t know it at the time obviously, you never do. As a recording I don’t think it’s super great - I find it too slow, though part of that is because I’ve been playing it a lot faster live. And I wrote beyond my abilities on the guitar. I can imagine it being a lot more awesome when played by someone who can really play. Some nice elements in there I guess, though they sound a little pat to me now. I was already bracing myself for criticism about using the same spooky music box trick I used in Bacteria (and would later use in Still Alive). The reverse thing at the end is cool, but I had a devil of a time getting it to smoothly transition from the forward version to the reversed version.

Song-wise, I think it’s a good one. The chord progression sounds kind of unique to me, it wanders and is spooky, but doesn’t really hit you over the head with the usual spooky music tricks. And it’s funny, but it has enough subtlety to it that it doesn’t get too annoying. I do love the turn when you realize the doll is just kind of irritating. And the twist at the end, while standard in this genre, feels CORRECT anyway. I was thinking about that Stephen King story with the wind-up monkey, and I was thinking of the doll in Trilogy of Terror, and probably a couple other things I can’t remember.

That line about “if you really need that much honey” actually comes from my past. I had a girlfriend in high school whose Dad had a reputation in the family for being something of a type-A personality, and it’s true, he was absolutely nuts about turning lights off, not wasting food, and saving money. For some reason he bought powdered milk, mixed it up, and then served that to his family in equal proportions with regular whole milk - WHY? Nobody knows. He was the kind of guy who would gingerly slide the turn signal arm into place when he turned on the blinker, because he wanted the switch to last a long time. He drove everyone crazy. There was a framed photo somewhere in the house of him posed and smiling in a suit. His son, my girlfriend’s older brother, had taped a little comic-style talk bubble to it that said “Hey! Do you really need that much jelly?” I thought it was a hilarious character assassination, so I stole it for this. 

It’s all the little secrets you have about where things come from that make you feel a little fraudulent sometimes. The audience see a magic trick, but I see a box with a trap door in it that I bought at the magic store. I know that’s how everybody works, because I’ve seen bits of my life in things that my friends have created. It feels good, like a little secret shout out. And then I wonder about this particular reference. Does that family remember that joke as well as I do? And have they heard this song and did they recognize it? 

You can find more info on this song, a store where you can listen to everything, and also other stuff at jonathancoulton.com.


  1. shoukounetsu reblogged this from jonathancoulton
  2. sassafrassasin reblogged this from jonathancoulton
  3. kagamine reblogged this from katwaterflame
  4. vanitymorrison reblogged this from katwaterflame
  5. katwaterflame reblogged this from jonathancoulton and added:
    This is one of those songs that I catch myself randomly singing in odd places… Th grocery store, the movie theatre, the...
  6. nothingtothetable reblogged this from jonathancoulton and added:
    Love this song. One of my favorites and hilariously awesome live.
  7. valpocalypse reblogged this from jonathancoulton and added:
    This song, with Paul and Storm, was EXCELLENT live, and JoCo’s really right, it is a much better experience live,...
  8. avernale reblogged this from jonathancoulton
  9. revelevon reblogged this from jonathancoulton
  10. wincestuousalectryomancy reblogged this from jonathancoulton and added:
    This was one of my favorite songs!
  11. jonathancoulton posted this