Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Witty Tunes Are Jonathan Coulton's 'Thing'

For 'Thing a Week' Jonathan Coulton put out a clever little song every Friday.
For 'Thing a Week' Jonathan Coulton put out a clever little song every Friday.
Jonathan Coulton's avatar at is Yonatan Coalcliff.
Jonathan Coulton's avatar at is Yonatan Coalcliff.

A bit of back story on Jonathan Coulton:

He's the musical director for Little Gray Books, a series of coffee-house performances, led by humorist John Hodgman, that are part lecture series, part variety show.

(Hodgman is the guy who plays the stodgy, less-than-hip PC in all those Mac ads on TV. He also shows up with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. He's funny. But that's another story.)

Coulton is plenty funny, too. And he has his own projects going.

One is called Thing A Week. For an entire year, he wrote one song a week, publishing them on Fridays.

Coulton calls it his forced-march approach to writing and recording. It was a way to prove to himself that he could still be creative on a schedule.

When a Friday arrived with no truly original "thing" in mind, he would reinvent a song, or simply put a new spin on a cover. (See "Baby Got Back" in the left-hand column. It's not Sir Mix-A-Lot's version, that's for sure.)

Coulton's "Code Monkey" took off with the online crowd. Now all of the songs are compiled in a set of four CDs which are about to go on the market via the indie-music distribution network CD Baby.

Through his Web presence and live performances, Coulton is developing an enthusiastic audience — including an artist who has used his songs to create graphic illustrations and even a coloring book. Other fans put their own video interpretations of his music on YouTube.

Coulton recently stopped by NPR's New York studio, guitar in hand, to tell Andrea Seabrook what he's been up to.

Jesse Baker produced this report for broadcast.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit

Become a sustaining member for as low as $5/month
Make an annual or one-time donation to support MTPR
Pay an existing pledge or update your payment information