Ted Mosby has been boring his kids with the same story for eight years now, recalling, in vivid detail, every step that brought him closer to meeting their mother on “How I Met Your Mother.” One of those steps, a vital one at that, was “Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?” — the last record from the now-kaput band the Unicorns. A sad, dark record, its inclusion in Mosby’s drawn-out road to his future wife makes former frontman Nick “Diamonds” Thorburn wonder: “Is she a capable parent?”
Thorburn’s record makes a cameo in the fifth season of the CBS sitcom — seven or so years after its release. In one episode, Ted meets a woman named Cindy while teaching a class at Columbia University and goes back to her apartment, where he starts picking up books and other objects that he’s surprised and thrilled that she owns — one of those objects is the Unicorns’ CD, which he snaps up and exclaims, “The Unicorns? Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone? I have never met anyone else who has this album.” Cindy replies, “That’s my roommate’s.” That roommate? She’s destined to be Ted’s future wife. Sorry, Cindy.
Fast-forward four more seasons to when we — the audience, not Ted (yet) — finally meet the mother, played by Cristin Milioti. Then cue the massive sigh of relief that the show will not, in fact, end in an asylum, where we discover that Ted has been talking to his doctor for nearly a decade, recalling the elaborate tale of how loneliness drove him mad.
Ted has yet to bond with Milioti — whose character also has yet to get a name — over their mutual appreciation for the Canadian post-punk band, but one has to admit that their love of Thorburn’s band was one of the signposts on the long-reaching road to their union.
Thorburn, who does not watch the show, was shocked when he first heard that the record was mentioned on the show. “I was flattered and kind of confused,” he told MTV News. “A few people texted me the night it aired and it didn’t make any logical sense to me. In a flattering way.”
He then mused, “If someone’s mother is listening to the Unicorns, then I’m not sure how I feel. On one hand, is she a capable parent? Is she reckless and zany? Will she be a good mother to her children? Why is Ted telling his kids about their mother? Did she run away with a lion tamer? Did she go down to skid row and shoot enough heroin into her veins to make Sid Vicious die all over again? What kind of a mother is this? What kind of an example are we setting for our future generations?”
Thorburn’s feigned (we think) concerns are actually rather valid, given that most of the record is about death, failed romances and weird obsessions. On the most upbeat track on the album, “I Was Born a Unicorn,” Thorburn and fellow bandmate Alden Penner crow, “I’ll stop believing in you/ If you stop believing in me.” “Endless Love” this ain’t.
All joking aside, Ted and the Mother are not the first couple who have met over the Unicorns’ tunes. “One time in Atlanta, we let a guy come up onstage so he could propose to his girlfriend,” he recalled. “Then we invited her up onstage so they could slow-dance while we serenaded them. My point is, people who like me should always be together.”
Even though the Unicorns are now no more, those looking to “be together” with Thorburn as a conduit are in luck. Not only does he currently front indie rock band Islands — which just dropped their new record Ski Mask — he also has a ton of side projects, including Mister Heavenly, which also features members of Man Man, Modest Mouse and, sometimes, Michael Cera.
So, Ted, when you finally do get a chance to geek out with the Mother over your yen for Nick Thorburn, perhaps you can update to another album in his oeuvre.
There’s one, however, that you might want to avoid.
“The worst though, is when I see one of [the couples that fell in love over my music] later and they have broken up. But that’s why I made A Sleep & a Forgetting!” Thorburn said, referring to the Islands’ 2012 breakup record.
So you might want to skip that one, Mosby. Unless, of course, “How I Met Your Mother” gets another season.