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#TrackoftheDay: “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)”

The Four Lads
USA (1953)

Have you ever been searching for something on the Internet, seen some other thing entirely, then ran down that rabbit hole instead? I bet you have. I do it all the time. In fact, doing it yesterday is how I discovered that “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)”–arguably one of the signature tunes of They Might Be Giants and a track from their classic album Flood–is a cover.

Maybe this isn’t news to you. It certainly was to me, because “Istanbul” sounds so much like a TMBG original. But either way, here’s the original 1953 version by The Four Lads.

To my ears, it sounded like a modern cover done in the style of a 1950s song, the TMBG version is so ingrained in my head. But no, it’s true. In fact, here’s the first cover of it, from 1954, by Frankie Vaughan.

It doesn’t work as well for me. More novel is this version by The Sacados out of Argentina, released in 1990, same year as Flood.

There’s also apparently a cover version by a “ukulele based performance group” out of New Zealand called The Big Muffin Serious Band. Which is an amazing and glorious name, I must say. I couldn’t find that online anywhere, but they offer the CD here.

As for what I was searching for to begin with? Haven’t the foggiest.