Thom Dunn is a Boston-based writer, musician, homebrewer, and new media artist. He enjoys Oxford commas, metaphysics, and romantic clichés (especially when they involve whiskey), and he firmly believes that Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" is the single greatest atrocity committed against mankind. He is a graduate of Clarion Writer's Workshop at UCSD ('13) & Emerson College ('08).

Smash Mouth wrote “All Star” to warn about climate change & anti-intellectualism 20 years ago—and we turned it into a stupid meme.

I've been working on this very important research for a year now, and I'm proud to finally share the truth with the world: how Smash Mouth tried to warn us about climate change & modern anti-intellectualism 20 years ago with a little song called "All Star."

This is a very serious work, and you’re welcome for my sacrifice.

Read More

New Album Preview! Hooray!

I've been putting this off for far too long, but I'm finally making headway on a new full-length solo album of songs I've been working on, tentatively titled "Five Years on the B-Side." If all goes well, it'll be out sometime in the early spring, and I might even do a few live shows around the Northeast to support it!

In the meantime, here are a few rough draft demos to give you an idea of what to expect. (just, ya know, keep in mind that they're sketches of the final arrangements, to help me figure out production things myself, which is why they're kinda messy and why they'll also disappear when recording is complete)

Happy 20th Birthday, Buffy! Here's a new birthday song:

Here's a little tune I wrote about that really unhealthy relationship you had with that vampire guy:

Don't Break A Window

Whatever you do, just make sure that you don’t break a window
‘Cause when your outrage smashes the glass, it lets them know how the wind blows
Not the black kids who died for the march,
Or the women and trans folk who want control of their own parts
It’s the shattered shards of pane they look through,
that’s where the real problem starts.

You can take to the streets just as long as you don’t punch a nazi
Exercising rights is like the gays: it’s fine as long as no one has to see
a way of life that doesn’t fit
into the narrow view controlling it
reality’s a one-way road you can’t just quit

It won’t go away
when the man upstairs says that “everything is great”
change won’t wait
for an open space in your Outlook calendar
Lives mean more than people’s property

Do I have your attention now that I’m condoning violence?
Well it’s funny how that works, and you should know, ‘cause you’re the one who came up with it
Make a profit while you’re promising rights
Keeping order never works when they’re fighting to survive
Justice only comes when we rage against the dying light

Now don’t get me wrong, I still believe that non-violence should work
But when the rules of the game have changed, things are bound to get worse.
Now that our truths are free of fact
Well, how else are the people supposed to react?
You can’t expect them all to keep the peace when you broke your part of the pact

We’ve heard say
that justice and truth are the American way
Things don’t change
at a convenient time for your Outlook calendar
Time is right to do what we’re gonna do
okay well technically the time that was right is now way overdue
But it all has to start with those same self-evident truths.

The inauguration of Donald Trump felt like a nightmare. The Women's March across the country was amazing. Here's a much more hopeful look at that inspiring day:

"My Life As A Weapon" is your new favorite song about my favorite Avenger.

As anyone who's met me would probably expect, I'm super pumped about CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. So to celebrate, here's a song I recently wrote about Clint Barton, the powerless, purple-wearing, bow-and-arrow-loving badass known as Hawkeye. (Specifically, it's about the comic book version of Hawkeye, with allusions to his relationship with Kate Bishop and his life growing up in the carnival and his death and resurrection at the hands of Wanda Maximoff but...let's not get so bogged down in continuity, yeah?)


This looks bad
You can blame that on my dear ol' deadbeat dad
But I'm not mad
Until the arrow that I've notched becomes my last

One more shot to break
this carny from his cage
where a low-life can escape
to save the day

So I'll stay on target
Because that's all I know how to do
Just as long as I'm next to you

And I know that this looks bad
But the quivering is all I've ever had
Like some Nomad
Or a Ronin dressed in black to hide the past

Draw the bow back, breathe
One moment of control
Because once it flies
You never know

So I'll stay on target
Because that's all I know how to do
Stay on target
While I'm fighting my way through
Stay on target
Just as long as I'm next to you

"Not like this."
When the silence stings
My sight's my only bliss
But I won't miss
Because I'm going out in style
with my greatest hits

I'm no Giant Man
But I won't give up the fight
Until my violet violence
Takes its flight

A musical memorial to Mama Cooter

This is the last text that I ever sent to Layne.

We had that creepy Campari clown hanging in our apartment junior year of college. Not because any of us drank Campari then (I do now), but because we found it in the trash on Beacon Hill and it had a frame, so we figured, why not? 

But Layne hated it. That clown creeped her the hell out. Still, she let it stay, and it became a running joke with us.

I don't know if she ever saw that text of her hated clown painting, or if she had already died from complications with diabetes by the time I sent it.

Here's a song I wrote when we were living together in 2007, and she was hospitalized for the same thing.

It's called "Electric Lights."


The selfish unawareness of
a window painted blue
electric lights that won't reflect,
but sound so clearly overdue

It permeates the smell of
sanitation and
of jaundice under skin that

has been peeled away
by saline soldiers,
crawling on their knees
across a bridge of gather lives;
maybe this time

she'll sound so much better
in this sweater than this dress
that leaves her back exposed
so all the coldest air can make a nest

All the stabbing
All the dripping
All the fevers and the cries
And poorly picked out tiles on the wall
have watched a million maidens die
underneath electric lights

She's so mixed up
like metaphors
it's better for her.
So when all
the shallow echoes fall
and settle in her cheeks
she's still demanding
all that I can V.

What's more romantic than spending Valentine's Day hearing me perform bad songs I wrote as a teen?

That's right, I'm doing another round of performances for the Boston Chapter of Mortified, showcasing the worst of the worst romantic songs I ever tried to write as an angsty/horny teen.

This year, we're doing 3 different shows — but fair warning, they're all selling out pretty fast!

Alejandro & the Fame at the Cantab Lounge!

That's right folks, everyone's favorite all-male hard rock Lady Gaga (+ other female pop artists) cover band returns to Boston — this Thursday night at the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge! Be there, or be having less fun than the rest of us.

And here's a little taste of the tunes...

Help Me Raise Money For Suicide Awareness & Get Free Stuff!

That's me and Mike to the left, circa 1999. Mike was one of my first friends I ever had, very much raised as a brother to me. He lost his life to suicide nearly five years ago now, and while you learn to deal with loss as time goes on, it never really goes away — you're left with questions and loss and one big hole that will never ever get refilled. That's part of the reason that I'm so sensitive and vocal about mental health (aside from own struggles); because I know what that suffering is like on all sides, and I don't think anyone else should ever have to experience those things.

I had other friends who'd lost loved ones to suicide, but Mike's death was really the first time I was forced to deal with losing someone so directly close to me, and especially in such a way. Unfortunately, when it comes to dealing with loss, I've gotten my fair of share of practice in these last five years, and Mike's wasn't the only one of those that could have (maybe, possibly) been helped, or stopped.

I could go on and on about this, but since suicide has recently been in the public eye, I've decided to do something different. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention hosts walkathon fundraisers every year to raise money for research, education, and outreach programs about suicide. The Out of Darkness walk (as it's called) in my hometown is not just for Mike, but it is taking place right around the anniversary of his passing. I want to raise some money for the walk, in the hope that even though its too late to save my friends, it might make a difference in someone else's life, so that they don't have to suffer the same.

So here's the deal: I've put together a sweet little package of music and eBooks, all various things that I've created, and they can all be yours with a donation of any amount to the Hamden, CT Out of Darkness Walk for the American Foundation for Society Prevention (Go Team Mikey).

All you have to do is click here to make your donation, and the download should start right away! (It's a pretty hefty ZIP file, because all the music is uncompressed)

Thanks in advance for your support. It means more to people than you realize, and I hope you enjoy your little rewards. Here's what you'll get:


  • Fixing a Hole, a one-act play about two friends and a hole at the end of the world. Mike lived for theatre, and shortly his death, I wrote this as a kind of elegy to him, and a reflection on our relationship.
  • EndProgram.txt, a darkly comedic (or maybe just sad) short story about the death of a robot. Originally written and conceived in the 5th week of the Clarion Writer's Workshop under the guidance of Kelly Link and Karen Joy Fowler. 


  • If You Really Want To Hear About It, the unreleased EP from my college band the Roland High Life. Six tracks, plus two bonus b-sides. Track 2, "Your Last Fall" was written before Mike's passing...but listening to it now, it feels frighteningly prescient.
  • Three new cover songs recorded especially for this occasion:
    • "The 59 Sound" by the Gaslight Anthem, changed to "The 69 Sound" in honor of the recording of Mike's beloved "Let It Be";
    • "I Was Meant For The Stage" by The Decemberists, one of Mike's favorite bands, this song could just have easily been written from his point of view, especially given how he had committed his life to theatre. At the reception following his funeral, some of Mike's friends played a haunting video of him singing this song at karaoke (my parents actually thought it was a song he had written). Recording this was the first time I've listened to this song since then;
    • and "You Were Cool" by the Mountain Goats, an unreleased track, with a few lyrical changes, as John's protagonist lives in his version of the song (also Mike wasn't really known for wearing high heels back in high school, although I did think about changing it to something like "stalking down the concrete hallways / in your tight jeans / back in high school," but then I didn't). Still, the lyrics remind me a lot of Mike growing up, and what I wish I could say to him now.

If you have any trouble with your download, please let me know.

Legal stuff: all content made available in this offer is available free and will not used for personal profit or gain. All files, content, intellectual property, etc. is the legal property and copyright of Thom Dunn and is made available through a Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike4.0 International license, with the following exceptions: 

  • "The 59 Sound" is copyright 2008 Brian Fallon / The Gaslight Anthem
  • "I Was Meant For The Stage" is copyright 2003 Colin Meloy / The Decemberists
  • "You Were Cool" is copyright John Darnielle / Mountain Goats

Jeff Mangum + John Malkovich = NEUTRAL MALKOVICH HOTEL

My friend Jeremy is one of the most wickedly funny people I know. His previous venture White Bored Funnies provided me with endlessly entertaining stick fingers for several years, and now he's outdone himself once again with one of those stupidly brilliant ideas that you hate yourself for not thinking of first (that is, if you're the kind of person with a similar sense of humor and taste of music as me).

Enter: NEUTRAL MALKOVICH HOTEL, my new favorite meme. Neutral Milk Hotel lyrics superimposed over screenshots from John Malkovich movies. It's like The Diaries of Anne Frank meets Being John Malkovich. It's everything I've ever wanted. 

He'll be adding more as he goes on, I'm sure, but you can check out the Neutral Malkovich Hotel tumblr right now for all your carrot flower needs.