What does Someone Keeps Moving My Chair mean?

They Might Be Giants: Someone Keeps Moving My Chair Meaning

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Album cover for Someone Keeps Moving My Chair album cover

Song Released: 1990

Someone Keeps Moving My Chair Lyrics

Mr. Horrible
Mr. Horrible
Telephone call for Mr. Horrible
But before he can talk to the ugliness men
There's some horrible business left
For him to attend to
Something unpleasant has spilled on his brain
As he sponges it off they...

  1. anonymous
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    Feb 1st 2018 !⃝

    I went for years hearing it as: Some_one_keeps_moving_my_one-eyed_Jack_around......ha

  2. anonymous
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    Apr 10th 2017 !⃝

    I think Mr. Horrible is a man who is concerned over small issues, like someone moving his chair, but ignores bigger issues that don't involve him.

  3. anonymous
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    Oct 23rd 2010 !⃝

    I think Mr. Horrible is an executioner, and that his "chair" is an electric chair that he kills people in. This explains why he is Mr. Horrible, and the lyric about balancing a glass of milk where "a visiting friend accidentally was killed." I don't know, just my interpretation of it.

  4. anonymous
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    Nov 17th 2009 !⃝

    To me, the "moving my chair" would refer to someone who is wheelchair bound -- possibly an old man.

  5. robra
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    Aug 2nd 2008 !⃝

    I think "Mr. Horrible" is a person in a position of corporate authority, such as a Director of the Board (his "chair"--and various references to office equipment), whose assistants/board members realize that his inept leadership makes things "horrible" for the company or institution he leads. The assistants therefore try to take matters into their own hands; though they defer to his authority by asking his permission to make new policies, thy are clearly trying to run things themselves, and know that by embarrassing him they can discredit the oblivious Mr. Horrible into losing his post. He is so inept--and so easily undermined at this point--that all Mr. Horrible can do is complain about his general discomfort that people are "moving his chair", or challenging his authority.

  6. anonymous
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    Jul 7th 2008 !⃝

    Perhaps this is overly simplistic, but how about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

    The Ugliness Men are the Rest of the World, all of us Untidy People. We want to bother him with his dead friend, or some embarrassing clothes, or balance some milk, or to remind him about his need for ToDo lists, but all he cares about (is obsessed with) is an unpleasant spill or that someone has moved his chair away from his favourite position.

    Simple as that, perhaps?

  7. anonymous
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    Feb 19th 2008 !⃝

    I think there's a very important thing people are missing out on here. The lead character of the song has all kinds of unpleasant things happening to him -- he appears to be the victim of the song. So why is HE Mr Horrible? What's so bad about him?

    Perhaps it's just a silly name they've given him that means nothing, although that's not TMBG's style. Perhaps it's meant ironically, but then, the Ugliness Men really do have a lot of ugliness going on, so that's probably not it. No, I reckon that Mr Horrible is the villain of this song, every bit as bad as the Ugliness Men or worse.

    He's a guy without any power in his own life. His superiors, the Ugliness Men and whoever he had to deal with before he could even get on the phone to be abused by the Ugliness Men, are people in power who run roughshod over him, don't care at all about his feelings, order him about without any regard to whether they cause him distress or humiliation. And how does he respond? Does he stand up to them, tell them where they can shove it? Does he draw the line anywhere? Of course not! He's terrified of them! No, he'll be their notepad, their clotheshorse, whatever they want, he'll do it with a smile.

    But when the Ugliness Men are gone...Mr Horrible wants someone to take it all out on. And by golly, he finds them.

    "Someone...keeps...moving...my.....chair!" Note the way the line is paced out. The rest of the song runs together much more quickly. Mr Horrible's superiors dole out their nastiness with a brisk, laissez-faire, even bored demeanour, and he takes it in stride. But this line...is...EMPHASIZED. Also note that the chair is not grammatically the main subject of this sentence. It's not "My chair keeps being moved". It's "SOMEONE keeps moving my chair".

    So there's somebody out there that Mr Horrible has some degree of power over. Maybe it's an underling at work, maybe it's the people who serve him down the coffee shop, maybe it's his kids. Whoever it is, whenever the Ugliness Men give him some humiliating and unpleasant task, he is ever so polite to them, but then turns around and finds some minuscule little thing like a relocated chair to mercilessly abuse somebody else over.

    That's why he's Mr Horrible.

  8. anonymous
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    Nov 20th 2006 !⃝

    go ahead with the direct hit, insults, humiliation, etc... The thing that bothers me is when someone keeps me off balance by changing the rules...moving my chair...

  9. anonymous
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    Aug 28th 2006 !⃝

    I always thought he was saying "armchair".

    But I like your idea...

  10. anonymous
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    Apr 5th 2006 !⃝

    Good point. And here I was, just thinking that John was having too much fun singing my...

  11. anonymous
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    Dec 18th 2005 !⃝

    I like the previous anonymous poster's interpretation pretty well.

    After listening to the song several times, I think I determined what the funny sound in the refrain between between the words "my" and "chair". No one pays any attention to these tiny little details when the lyrics are being written (by listeners), but I think the two words in between "my" and "chair" are "uh, uh"

    The word "uh" adds clarity (for me) in understanding that the fact that the CHAIR KEEPS BEING MOVED is not really important at all. When Mr. Horrible says, "Someone keeps moving my chair," I think, "Someone keeps moving my ....uh .....uuhhhhh.... chair!" Mr. Horrible's trying to think of something to say. Anyway, this little tidbit just adds to what the previous poster said. Basically, I agree!

  12. anonymous
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    Sep 23rd 2005 !⃝

    I think this song is about the human capacity for denial.
    Even though the unfortunate Mr. Horrible is faced with embarassment, harassment, humiliation and even death, all he can bring himself to worry about is the smallest detail -- his chair was moved.

    Don't many of us have "ugliness men" in our lives, whether they're bosses, spouses or 'friends' -- whom we'd be much better off without, but instead we continue to deny their overwhelming bad characteristics and instead focus on small annoyances?

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