Thing a Week 14 – Flickr

By JoCo December 22, 2005

This is Super Special Video Edition of Thing a Week. Some of you will no doubt be watching this on the new video iPod you got for Christmas – the rest of you, maybe you shouldn’t have married a cheapskate. I won’t explain too much about it here, except to say that it’s an example of what Creative Commons licensing makes possible. I was able to do this without calling any lawyers or receiving any cease and desist letters, because all these photos were published on Flickr with CC licenses that let me know it was OK to use them this way. No doubt you’ve finished your Christmas shopping already, but if you forgot to get something for The World, maybe you should take a moment to CC license something you created and release it into the wild…

Enough! Here it is: Flickr


Mythgarr says

Good times - you really should get some better software for rendering the credits at the end if you plan on doing more of this thing. It shows why the thing a week is REALLY called Flickr.

Brooklyn Bluesman says

You've really achieved something approaching greatness here. Keep it up and you'll be on a level with the "boy in the bubble" in that Paul Simon song. Kidding aside-nice piece of work.

al saiz says

Flickr is a prize winner. A great Christmas Card.

Jonathan, I do believe you could set the New York City phone book to music and make it sound awesome!

Merry Christmas from Barrington, Rhode Island

JH says

This is probably the most important thing I have seen all year. Thanks for getting it in under the wire.

But dude: what's up with those credits?

Brett Taylor says

Jonathan - You never cease to amaze me with your creativity! A living legend is you!

JH - the credits are the URLs where Jonathan found all his 'source material', which is all Creative Commons licenced

All the photos:

Len says

Totally amazing. Thanks for making a Chirstmas miracle come true for me.

Khan says

Beautiful genius. This touched me and made me laugh, a rare achievement for a music video. Thanks.

Chuy says

This was the most wonderful thing I've ever seen; and I've seen many, many wonderful things. This video song is better than puppy dogs and rainbows and slurpies (not coincidentaly, things actually seen in the video).

WTF? It was chuckle worthy in a few places. I like JC enough to pop in once a week for a listen. I find most of his work to be creative, or witty, or at least interesting. But sheesh, must his commenters ravenously lick his balls for each "thing" he releases. Per-spec-tive.

Erik says

haha! That was perfect!

Can I download the soundtrack to this movie?

Chris Radcliff says

That was beautiful. I wept.

The Radford says

Consider your balls ravenously licked. Awesome.

Ben says

That is fantastic! The soundtrack was brilliant too - I loved the bit about matching ties.

Brian says



Jonathan Harford says

When that finished, I was sad because I wanted more. Great!

airship says

John, Got the link for this on bOINGbOING, and I can honestly say nothing, ever, has made me feel better about being a member of the human race. This video should be put on the next extrasolar space probe so that extraterrestrials will have some small idea of what's it really like to be a human being. My only disappointment was in not finding one of my OWN Creative Commons licensed Flickr photos in there somewhere. And screw anybody who thinks you garner too much praise for your work - I don't think it's possible to give someone too much praise for something this good.

JoCo says

Thanks all you ball-lickers! The credits are a little flickery because I compressed it so as not to dump a 60 file on everyone. I do have a full quality version if anyone wants it for weddings or festivals. I also could theoretically post the song by itself I guess, but what a weird song it would be without any images.

xian says

don't listen to mister sour grumpus up there, who begrudges you fans.

dude (mr. grumpy) commenters are self selecting. the ones who found the video unremarkable (or never found it) aren't represented here. you have to imagine them. feel better, mr. lonely?

jc, please keep it up. a week without a thing is like a bicycle without a crab.

"Digital" Bill says


You never cease to amaze me. I'd been having a pretty crappy holiday season. This video made me laugh, and cry, and smile, and just appreciate the hell out of you and your talent.

Thank you so much for making your talent and genius accessible to the rest of us.

Rock on.

DigitalBill says

That was me... didn't take the name. Rock on. - DB

ellipse says

thank you

The Almighty Charles says

Good times. I know I'm on a few free-to-use photo sites, and now I'll have to give Flickr a try.

Thadeous says

hi! very nice. I just thought I'd let you know I uploaded this to my young torrent tracker,

Evo says

Genius. Pure, friggin' genius. Thanks again for the constant entertainment and joy.


Eric says

I absolutely love it. It's a freaking riot. Where do you come up with this stuff.

Paul says

Made me smile! By the way, is that an ocarina are you playing?

JoCo says

Paul: It's actually a penny whistle in one ear and some kind of ocarina-like thing that I can't remember the name of right now in the other. It's black plastic, kind of like a squat fat recorder.

Roger says

Thumbs up for JC!

Caterina says

This made our Christmas, me and the dog with glasses. :-)
WE LOVE IT! And all the Flickr team too. Bravo!!

Barry says

Excellent! My brain just received another little ping that tells it new and exciting things are happening...very good to know. I came here by way of the flickr blog but I'll bookmark you to visit you every so often and see what else you're up to.

Erik says

How on earth did you find that mix of photos and manage to make a song that wrapped them all together? As Picasso once said, "Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working." This video should serve as a great motivator for other CC mixers.

Jon says

It actually was a pretty great party!

flickrich says

Pure greatness

Jonas says

Amazing! But I am having problems getting it to play on my iPod, can anybody help me? Thanks.

JoCo says

Hey Jon, are you the guy with the tin foil hat in that photo? Because that guy is obviously having the most fun.

Fernando Lucas says

Awesome video!! *claps*

Steven Erat says

Trackback Excerpt: "Folksinger Jonathan Coulton extolls the altruistic virtues of Creative Commons licensing and propagates the art of giving one step further by composing a song inspired by and set to a series of random Flickr photos that are themselves licensed for non-commercial sharing."

Jonnie Geetahr says

JC, this is seriously genious stuff. Keep it up.

Eric says

Who says if your receiving your not gay?

Max says

Great idea, Jonathan. I love the song.

Just a suggestion for the moves and crossfades ... this may have been intentional, but I reckon you should continue the move on each photograph through the crossfade. It'll look a whole lot smoother. Like I say, just a suggestion though. Great work.

ITAvenger says

Jonathan you never cease to amaze me. Keep up the great work.

Sherman says

Aw, that was good. Sweet even.

Although I must comment that "if you are only receiving" is an old gay boy's trick to fool drunken marines into complicity. Kinda like what the veteran sailors use on the rookies on their first shipping out: "It ain't gay once you're under way". And more -- the accompanying photo doesn't prove the point because even if you are just receiving, it still is bestiality, even if stoned.

But at least it, whatever it was and we won't discuss that on this family blog, was from a bear and not a stupid tree. GO BEARS! BEAT STANFORD!

Janice in GA says

I enjoyed the hell out of that! Very well done!

XenoTrout says

Despite never having looked at a mismatched flickr slideshow, I found this song funny and well done. I'll have to listen to more Coulton (pointed to this one video from

jon says

hope i'm not breaking any law but i thought since i liked the music, maybe othre people would do also. so i uploaded the mp3 here (about 3 meg):
great work by the way

becky says

watched this on new years day and it made me cry. Beautiful!

rachel says

hey, you used my pies here shot!

JoCo says

Hey there pie lover, thanks for making your photo CC. You know, it's kind of fun - so far a few people whose photos were used have written comments here or elsewhere. It's good to know they know this thing exists. A place to get some pie, a dog with glasses, this party's better than it seems and there's a small town in the mountains are the ones that I know about, but could be there are more. I'm waiting for the angry person, who is bound to show up any day now...

santino says

Hey ! that was my lunch in your weirdeo.
ha ha
nice cute song.
I am glad to be part of it.

Ryan says

That is an instant classic. I'll be watching it over and over.

JoCo says

Hey! Soup with noodles!

LaRsDnA says

This is a digital version of the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players. ( Not the music but the idea of using other's photos/slide collections to build the lyrics of a song. Very cool. Now all John needs is a 10 yr old drummer and you could be on TV. Or, maybe... you should just keep doing what you're doing. Thanks.

Carsten says

Great! Just great! Thank you!
Did you write a song matching to the pics or search pics matching the song?
Would be glad to see the HQ-Version you talked about. Could you perhaps publish it via Filesharing or something if it is to big for normal Webspace?

JoCo says

Carsten: I wrote in all directions at once - there were some photos I found that I just had to use. Then it was a question of matching it with a rhyme. Sometimes I'd come up with a rhyme that was funny, and then try to find a picture that would work, other times I'd find another great picture and figure out a way to describe it that rhymed.

I'll see if I can get the full version uploaded to and then post a link if you're interested...

Prospero says

I couldn't get the video from your side - BUT - that's the beauty of the net - I found that someone has put it on Prodigem and I bittorentet there:
Thank you Jonathan - I loved your Podsafe Christmas Song but this one - frell yeah!
Ad Astra

New Orleans says

This is oddly touching and beautiful. The music makes it happen really. You are a wonderful song writer and do an excellent job evoking emotion through your music and vocals. I mean, your voice is inspiring! This sounds kind of fruity coming from another man, not being typical man-speak, but yours is the kind of voice I enjoy hearing. When I'm not listing to angry anti-government styled metal, I like to relax to folk music, and your songs qualify in that genre. There is heart in this song, unlike Resolutions. I hate to be critical of your talents, but your Things lately have felt only half-hearted. It has to be tough cranking out a new song every freakin' week. Thanks for giving me something to look forward to on Fridays besides the weekend.

Carsten says

Sure! That would be nice. I don't know yet but I'm definitely interested in the full version.

Grant says

This is a constant favorite at the studios here! Giggles abound. Dwyer and Thumbs Up For Slurpees are phrases constantly repeated between takes! Muchas Gracias. - The Adventures Of Dr. Floyd crew!

tequila_mockingbird says

along with all the other possitive comments, i would like to add that i get happy when those great background vocals kick in! they are so perfectly smooth and "shiny" at the same time. How did you do that?!

my little 3 year old girl loves it too. "papa! let's play the 'broken finger' song!"

M says

Great Song. Reminds me of the work of the Trachtenberg Family Slideshow Players Check them out if you get a chance.

Paul says

The whole thing is awesome, but the dog with glasses made it special. He (she?) looks a lot like a Corgi I just lost before the holidays. Bittersweet memories seeing this one. There's something about this sort of compilation that is very powerful - I suspect everyone can relate to at least ONE photo in here.

amy carr says

i'm confused.. you like the CC licenses that flickr users put on their photos, and then you reuse them that way, but your sight says this whole blog including the video is under full copyright, not share and share alike.

my understanding about the CC licenses is that you have to pass the share and share alike status through, so therefore all of your video is actually shareable. but why not make that clear upfront?

JoCo says

Amy: CC licenses are not meant to replace copyright, they actually work together to allow ou to create a middle ground between "all rights reserved" and "no rights reserved." So all the stuff I do is still copyrighted, but the CC license allows me to explicitly allow some uses that copyright alone doesn't allow. CC says you can reuse my stuff under the share and share alike rules, but copyright says you can't just put my song in a commercial for cheese without licensing it from me. I think you're right though - I could probably change the site to make this a little more clear. I did put the CC license text in at the end of the video.

electrolite says

Is there anywhere I can find the lyrics written out?

JoCo says

Elec: lyrics are here.

dtriebmos says

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Derick says

JC, probably your link is broken.

Jerry says

I wish I knew WHY this silly little video is so - satisfying. Thanks for making it.

Candyman says

No doubt you’ve finished your Christmas shopping already, but if you forgot to get something for The World

Riddy says

JC, I discovered you and your music only a week ago, and this particular gem of a song/video two days ago. And I think I know why, as Jerry pondered above, it's so "satisfying." To me, personally, it evokes the emotions that accompany those far too few moments in life which give us a true "moment of clarity" as to the simple, inexplicable wonder of it all. Even, or especially, amidst all the turmoil and uncertainty in the world today. Finding a box of old photo albums you'd thought had been lost years ago in a move. My daughter smiling at me for the first time, with her mouth *AND* her eyes. I could go on, but I hope you get the idea.
Now, get your butt down to Huntsville, AL sometime. We're a big small melting pot of a town with a curious cross section of engineers, physicists, NASA-types, rocket scientists, and yes: rednecks too, but maybe more importantly, a nightlife crowd starved for someone new, original, talented, creative & intelligent. A touch of "whacked in the head" goes a long way too. If you can't make it, I'll be definitely looking for a Vienna show the next time I visit the in-laws in Fairfax.
Thanks for reading, thanks for the music, and all the best!

Kerrin says

I loved this video so much, it inspired me to create The Jonathan Coulton Project!

CodeKitty says

I loved the video a while back, but when I went to show it to a friend today, the link didn't work. I think you've got a broken link. I would love to see the video again. :)

roscivs says

I just bought the "Thing-a-Week Two" album with this song on it, ripped the CD to mp3s and stuck them on my mp3 player and have been listening to the songs all week. This song was in my top three favorites on the album, but I didn't realize what the song was called. Only today did I notice the song's name was "Flickr" and I realized, "Hey, I bet there are pictures to go with this song!"

So, JC, when you said, "I also could theoretically post the song by itself I guess, but what a weird song it would be without any images," the song by itself is beautiful and was a favorite of mine even before I looked at any of the pictures. (I'm downloading the video right now.) Thanks for writing it and brightening so many people's lives.

Molly says

"Dwyer's rocking out" and "someone's grandma" are both private pictures now.
Don't they know that they're stars?

Molly says

Also: I would very much like the high-quality version of the video.

Miranda says

I've been a fan now for almost a year (read about you in the NYTimes), have been to two shows in Chicago at Schubas, and always liked the "Flickr" song, as I am a big Flickr fan/user. Since Flickr just enabled stats use for pro users, I just noticed that one of my photos was linked by It's a big thrill to see that one of my photos is actually referred to in the song! Thumbs up for Slurpees, indeed!

Thanks for the music.

Eric says

I promise that 'if your receiving your not gay' will never be set to private. I love the video and the song. My roommate is the one that found this on line and told me about it. Good times.

Genre O'Neel says

Consider your balls ravenously licked. Awesome.

Angelastic says

I just noticed that (old man working by candlelight) does not seem to be CC licensed, at least not any more. I hope that isn't a problem.

tasha says

recently i emailed you about how i animated your 'Creepy Doll' song and how i wanted to animate 'Re: your brains' but because this was called flickr i had assumed it wasn't a song until i came across this page ha and just informing you ill deffinatly be wishing to animate this too!

Tito says

Great stuff here! but, for some reason, I can't watch this video, the download jsut freezes without really beginning :(