Friday, June 10, 2022

Freak-flag creature identified

The 1996 They Might Be Giants Song "How Can I Sing Like a Girl" contains these lines:

I want to raise my freak flag
Higher and higher and
I want to raise my freak flag
And never be alone
Never be alone

The allusion is to the 1970 Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song "Almost Cut My Hair" ("I feel like letting my freak flag fly"), but every time I hear those lines, I have a mental image of a large herd ("never be alone") of small gracile quadrupeds, each with a very long feather-like tail that sticks straight up ("raise my freak flag").

For a long time, I had a vague sense that this image was from the 1968 Beatles film Yellow Submarine but was never able to track it down. Today I suddenly realized that I had been barking up the wrong tree and that it was actually from Dougal Dixon's 1988 book The New Dinosaurs: An Alternative Evolution. Here, at long last, is the creature that wants to raise its freak flag higher and higher and never be alone: Vexillosaurus levipes, a non-crested sprintosaur native to the floodplains of the Mississippi.

It is extremely satisfying to have finally discovered the source of that persistent but elusive image!

Note added: Here's a different artist's rendition of the same creature.


Wade McKenzie said...

"They Might Be" alluding to the CSN&Y song "Almost...", but an even earlier iteration of the "freak flag" motif is Hendrix' "If 6 Was 9", which came out at the tail end of 1967.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...


That’s an even better hit: “gonna wave my freak flag high, high.”

I don’t really know Hendrix’s music.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

By coincidence, I just saw a six turning into a nine in this propaganda film last night:

Easy Without You

This is one of the most seamless mashups I've ever heard.