Monday, December 31, 2007

Hung on Every Word

From The Whole Shebang

An interesting premise for a song, the song whose name I gave to this blog is about the treacherous effects of the rumor mill as our speaker hears that a certain someone harbors certain feelings about him. Upon hearing that she can’t get enough of him, the speaker vows to make her prove that this is true. He says that if the rumor is not true, it should mean nothing to him, but he finds himself too excited about the possibility to just let this rumor be “a lot of noise in [his] periphery.” And so going on a simple rumor, he rejects logic and anything telling him to restrain himself, only to plunge into a situation that probably does not end favorably, hence the imagery of being executed, as the song ends in a cacophony of guitar walk-downs and shouting, “hung on every word.”

I will confess that I thought this song was the low point of The Whole Shebang from my very first listen to the record. I became a fan of it in the summer of 2005 when the live band began playing it, adding its energy and power to the guitar set. It was short-lived in the set, and its last performance that I can recall is from January, 16 2006, from which this recording was taken.

Download Live mp3

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Invincible Boy

From Instant Nostalgia and the Japanese release of Foreign Legion

This song started out as one among the throngs of Seth Timbs demos, but among the few that has actually surfaced. I believe I heard it said that Mac Burrus had requested to Seth that he write a song called, “Invincible Boy,” and Seth was obliged to do it, penning words about the youngsters of today and their detachment from reality as a result of being so engulfed in technology and media (for a similar theme, see “Twenty-First Digital Boy” by Bad Religion*). A demo was made, and the song was performed live once in 2000 or early 2001 in one of Seth’s acoustic appearances (which I wish I could access so I could post it). The demo was released on the Japanese version of Foreign Legion, and very few of us in this country got to hear it.

It features one of those melodies, the “make way” part (perhaps a reference to the H.M.S. Makeway, the name given to Fluid Ounces’ touring vehicles), that you’ll swear you’ve heard some at point before (the Beatles hold the copyright on most of those melodies, but occasionally other people stumble across another one). Like the vocal melody of “How to Be Happy,” it just makes so much sense that those sounds should come together!

Anyway, this song lay fallow for years before it did something that no other Fluid Ounces song has ever really done. It evolved. When the final live band began playing together, they were mainly showcasing tunes to promote The Whole Shebang. Interludes in the set in which Seth played guitar have come and gone as long as Fluid Ounces has been around, but with hits like “Selma Lou” and “Fool Around” being so guitar heavy, it was necessary to include a guitar set in every Fluid Ounces show for 2004 and 2005. They began to include other guitar songs, and around the time Brian Rogers vetoed playing “Lazy Bones” live anymore, the band pulled this one out of its collective hat.

The new live version was heavier than the original demo. Kyle Walsh used a shaker with one hand and played the kit with the other, adding backing vocals to emphasize the word “way” every time it appears in the song. With two electric guitars, a jamming solo was added to the end of the song, during which Tha B rocks out while Seth sets down his guitar, only to sit down at the piano and finish up with a solo to make a smooth transition to the rest of the set (the live version I’m including here is from May 27, 2005—not my best live recording of the song, but the only version I have of this particular way of performing it). Sometimes, with almost no pause, Seth would immediately count off and then launch the band into “Paperweight Machine,” which made for an exciting musical moment for those of us in the audience.

Recording began sometime in the summer of 2005 with drums and bass, and then it continued to evolve to what I think is its quintessential version for Instant Nostalgia once Seth and Brian re-vamped it in early 2006. A drum machine was used, and the solo became a freak-out jam between an electric piano and an electric guitar, filled with too many cool parts to mention.

Download Live mp3

*The song I mentioned above is the only Bad Religion song I’ve ever heard.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Best of Everything

From Awkward Middle Phase: Seth Timbs' Home Demos, Volume One

This song was played live a few times at the very beginning of 2005 as the band was experimenting with several other new songs in order to break new ground after The Whole Shebang, the best of which was kept and became Instant Nostalgia. This one and “Bombardier,” another of my favorites, didn’t make the cut. Fortunately, we were given a copy of this song for Awkward Middle Phase.

Seth Timbs said this one was retired because of its “Foldsness,” which, not having heard enough of Osama Ben Folds to know one way or another, I could not distinguish in this song or any other. It features a great piano line as its intro and reaches toward “Smitten” in the way that it celebrates two people being together and feeling on top of the world just because of they’re together. It also has traces of “Make It Through” as it compares walking a high-wire to the earlier song's flying trapeze.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Eleven:Eleven

From In the New Old-Fashioned Way

Eleven reasons why “Eleven:Eleven” would have been the perfect leading single for In the New Old-Fashioned Way:
1. Its infectious catchiness will stay in your head for hours on end.
2. Which part is the verse, and which part is the chorus? Only a large-scale vote could resolve this.
3. At the time, the band’s best bet to break free of the chains of Ben Folds comparisons was to embrace the jazz that soaked what they were doing around this time. This song is the closest the band sounds to being a jazz combo aside from “Sucker” and “Lend Me Your Ears.”
4. The solo, complete with the easily identifiable quote from Tholonious Monk’s “Straight, No Chaser,” is perfectly accentuated by a single note by Tha B, attracting fanboys the world over.
5. With its pensiveness played in such a fast and clever manner, it would attract music lovers to listen so closely to it to detect the subtleties of its story.
6. This song is surrounded by all of the best songs on In the New Old-Fashioned Way, so casual listeners who would have bought the CD just for this song would have likely found the other songs to branch them out to the awesomeness of this record.
7. The old saying is to make a wish whenever you see a clock that reads, “11:11,” and even though this song doesn’t reference this directly, it’s almost like a wish to cure some relationship woes.
8. “Vegetable Kingdom” had already been shopped on college radio stations months before, and with the new CD coming out, Spongebath set out an online vote among fans to decide whether “Drought” or “Luxury” should be the first single. I believe “Luxury” won, and I never thought it held the strength to be any type of single. And as for “Drought,” well, it would be my distant second choice after “Eleven:Eleven.”
9. I would have loved to have seen “11:11” shirts with a Fluid Ounces logo and a clock on them with the simple statement, “The Time Is Now…”
10. Did I mention how hard it is to expunge “The time is now 11:11” from your head once it gets there?
11. Irony: a three-minute song about a single minute in time.

The video presented here is from Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1999.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sick

From Soaking in the Center of the Universe, Vol. 1

This song was originally written and performed with Ella Minopy, but Seth Timbs brought it with him to help beef up the fledgling Ounces’ sets in the early days. One of the lyrics says, “You’ve known my kind to write god with a lower case g,” which is a reference to Lower Case G’s, Ella’s only studio (or perhaps semi-studio?) release. As to whether this song appeared on that EP or if this is a pre-Ounces recording, I don’t know. (Tha B, can you help us out with that one?)

The other songs around this time focus either on love gone wrong or the ills of religion exclusively, but this song blends the two together so seamlessly that it could be about either one. Either way, we know that Seth Timbs was about to be sick!

The song is filled with brilliant little lyrical moments, so many that I won’t list them here as I’d be printing the whole song, but I’ll mention that my favorites are in its contrasts (“from my Superman heart/ to your Kryptonite eyes”) and one of my single favorite religious references in any Fluid Ounces song (“from my Mennonite heart/ to your Baptismal eyes”).

Many confused this lone b-side from Big Notebook as a live track because it ends with some raucous Ounces shouting at what sounds like some sort of drunken party, but this was obviously grafted onto the studio recording as the quality is too good to be a live recording.

Download mp3

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Big Empty

From Big Notebook for Easy Piano and Soaking in the Center of the Universe, Vol. 1

This song begins in utter silence, with just Seth Timbs alone in the studio asking, “Is it rolling?” (Those words are not on the Soaking in the Center of the Universe version.) A single acoustic guitar then begins to lead us into a very mysterious place as whirling guitars and sustained, reverberated piano notes join it, and we hear Seth’s quietly strained words leave lots of space to breathe and think within the microcosm of this song. (It reminds me of Self’s “Placing the Blame,” only Matt Mahaffey says the word “man” at the end of a few lines, making me always think that extraneous word would work at the end of every line or every other line here.) “I’ve got bigger fish to die for,” rings out from among all the descriptions, beginning to align the many images filling the great big empty that is this relationship coming to a bitter end.

I think what makes this one jump out as a bona fide epic is when they change things up for the amazing bridge, when quietly moving along turns into shifty rhythmic piano moves as Seth begins,

“I packed my bags for a lengthy stay in a tropical place
I couldn’t keep myself contained
So, it’s official we’re ignoring monumental consequences
We just can’t erase
I love you more when you’re away
And when you’re gone I walk the floors’
I’ve got duties to ignore”

The fast delivery is juxtaposed against the space of the rest of the song, with breaking free of the “big empty” of this relationship and setting us up for “Poor Man,” the next track on the record. But the seamless transition into the end of the second half of the song shows our narrator is not quite finished with toils he’s experiencing with this relationship.

Brian Rogers has alluded to this song being a live favorite early on, describing it as both an “epic” and a “hit” (which probably explains its inclusion on the Spongebath compilation). It never emerged again on any of the line-ups I’ve ever seen, as much as I’d love to see this one performed some day.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Crazies

From The Whole Shebang

On one of the many incarnations of the Fluid Ounces message boards that have come and gone, amid many discussions of what songs people wanted Fluid Ounces to revive at their live shows, I steered one such conversation toward songs that I hope I never heard played live again. Most were songs that I’m still tired of from before Seth Timbs moved to Los Angeles (“Marvel Girl” and “Luxury” come to mind—because they always seemed like easy songs added to live sets as throw-aways to add length and song-recognition to the sets), and the only one I listed that they were actually playing at the time was “Crazies.” They never played it again, and I take credit for the demise of this song, whether I had anything to do with it or not.

It’s not a bad song, but I tend to associate it with past relationships, and I think it was given too prominent a place with its frequent plays, and I just got tired of it. It does a lot of things right, though with the nice, “La da da da da da da, la da da da da da”-ing and a great piano outro.

I guess, and maybe this is brought on by the fact that I’ve done a lot of “growing up” since this song was debuted in 2001, that my chief problem is how the song flaunts its naïveté and boasts of a love that “couldn’t work out better in the movie,” yet in the end, the “love so simple it was made to go on and on and on,” for both Seth and me, proved not to be that at all. Thinking specifically of having this song played at my wedding reception, it seems to embody pride coming before a fall to me. I guess Seth doesn't feel that way about it. That is why I was surprised that it stayed in Fluid Ounces sets as long as it did, on through 2005, before I killed it.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Mountain Man from Mole Hill

From Awkward Middle Phase: Seth Timbs' Home Demos, Volume One

Written on guitar and first performed at the first of two of the band’s only piano-less sets, this one in the summer of 2000, “Mountain Man from Mole Hill” essentially takes its premise from the Beatles’ “The Fool on the Hill” and runs with it, fleshing out the ideas into a more fully realized vision of what Paul McCartney was trying to say and do.

The song begins with a marching drum intro and then ascends into a high place in which the mountain man can see the world below, comparing the people in the world below to ants as they busy themselves with making mountains out of mole hills. The song has no true chorus to speak of, using the spoken title as the refrain to punctuate each verse at the beginning and the end. Its bridges then serve as the two haiku within the song that almost show us what sets the mountain man apart from the ants as the first one says,
“And the ladder to heaven
Climbs only halfway,
But it’s over the weather
And the sun shines all day,”

while the second one says,

“And the sooner or later
Gets closer each day.
But it’s just human nature
To sit and watch and wait.”

The second of these then goes into a blistering Doug Payne solo as the song then leads back into a third verse amid some very Brian Wilson-esque backing vocals. It then cools down as it brings us down from its higher place and coasts us back into a station to go forth and work among the ants, hopefully to fight against their industry and ability to turn mountains into mole hills, whatever they may be.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Out of Your Element

Unreleased Track

It may be low quality of this recording (from January 29, 2000, my first Fluid Ounces show—though I’m not the moron recording this and asking why the minidisk player is still on “track 1” in the first few seconds of the song—I was lucky enough to find and trade for this recording), but “Out of Your Element” is not a song I reach for when looking for my favorite Fluid Ounces songs. But if I could name an anthem to concisely sum up my experiences with both college and marriage, “Out of Your Element” is it:
“When I was out of my element
I did the strangest things.
So I’m compiling up the evidence
And it doesn’t add up to anything.”
For the immediate sense that this song is about me, I do consider among my favorites, and the fact that few of you have heard this forgotten tune (until now, at least) has always kept it close to my heart as a song about me for me. It has a certain accessibility to it since it is written in “the people’s key of G,” and features one of the simplest guitar riffs for novices to emulate, unlike the rest of the catalogue entirely. The lyrics in it are ambiguous enough to be applied to anything (i.e. one’s experiences with college or marriage), making it one that I wish had caught on more so that I could hear others’ interpretations of it.

The song was among the many that debuted with the new line-up the night mentioned before, and it was because of it that the band would include guitar sets for the next six months until Justin Meyer left the band that summer. The band would not have any more guitar sets until the final line-up debuted in 2004, and it was necessary to showcase the guitar songs from The Whole Shebang. But this song never re-surfaced, and I’ve since been given the impression that Seth Timbs prefers it that way.

Maybe the demo will turn up someday anyway.

Download Live mp3

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Available!!

That's right, friends! Fluid Ounces finally have Instant Nostalgia available for sale online. Download it at their website!

www.fluidouncesmusic.com

Seriously, this is the one that gives In the New Old-Fashioned Way a run for its money as the best record! You've read the blogs, and now you can hear the songs!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Come On Out

From the yet-to-be-released Instant Nostalgia

While most dismiss this song as their least favorite in current Fluid Ounces live sets, (a “go to pee” song is another name), as well as on the new record, “Come On Out” has remained among my favorites since Seth Timbs debuted it in 2004 at The Whole Shebang Release Show. First off, it’s a romantic invitation, a call out to a special someone to leave with the speaker, conjuring images of moonlit summer nights, running and dancing through open fields.

Structurally, this song is very unique. The rhythm is set up by three chords, each played for one beat in three-quarter time, creating a waltz without being an all-out waltz like “To Cure the Lonely.” On top of the chords, the guitar and piano play dreamy leads, with delicate chord voicings and sometimes Seth uses more of a vibraphone sound on the keyboard. The chords provide the rhythm structure so soundly that it gives Kyle Walsh a chance to add color to the song like a guitar or piano usually do. They even gave him a drum solo—think more Elvin Jones on Coltrane’s Crescent than John Bonham on “Moby Dick.” Seth described the solo as making “your heart swell up and burst.” I only wish there would have been more of a drum solo for the final recorded version.

December 9, 2005, was my favorite performance of this particular song. Seth had just acquired a new keyboard for playing live, and he was experimenting with different voices for several songs, and Kyle Walsh was really starting to get comfortable and push on the drum solo, as you'll hear. I also make a rare appearance in one of my live recordings by yelling "Woo-hoo!" as soon as they start playing this one.

Download Live mp3

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bigger Than the Both of Us

From In the New Old-Fashioned Way

Human beings are the most complex living things alive on our planet. When two of them come together, especially in a loving, physical relationship, the result can only be more complex. And so that relationship becomes bigger than the sum of its parts, as this song discusses in its title and very straightforward lyrics about the bitter end of a relationship.

Even though this is far from my favorite Fluid Ounces song, it illustrates very well how the words and music of Fluid Ounces have impacted me. When I found this body of music, it seemed to express the way I was feeling thematically with words I hadn’t yet imagined and to massage thoughts I’d been thinking on my own (like the previous paragraph--whether I just filled in some blanks and interpreted it a certain way to suit me, I don’t know).

This is one of two tracks from In the New Old-Fashioned Way that I have never heard performed live, and so there is no recording to pass along.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Back to Two

Having exhausted most of the pool of songs I have pre-written, I'm going to slow down this blog a little here around the half-way mark to only two posts per week: Monday and Thursday. I'll probably pick it up again in the new year.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Tokyo Expressway

From The Whole Shebang

The funny thing about “Tokyo Expressway” is that it’s probably the most singularly autobiographical song that Seth Timbs has written, and even though few people can relate to its storyline of traveling to Japan and being dragged from performance to party on a rigorous schedule while completely unable to sleep, many people see this as one of the most affective songs on The Whole Shebang. I think the reason is that here we see a side of Seth that is a different kind of insecure from what we’ve heard him before. Yes, we’ve heard about the toils of his love life, and we’ve sympathized with him, but here he sings about his own career and his own fears, including his insecurities regarding a love relationship that he is already involved in (whereas he usually sings about relationships in their sad demises), and I think that resonates with most people who hear things in this song presented in a new way we hadn’t heard before.

I try to subtly praise this song when I communicate with the band in a one-man effort to keep it alive at the band’s live shows. I wondered if its mentioning of Seth’s ex-wife by name has anything to do with it, though I thought it was interesting that in a few performances he sang, “Thoughts of Malin and mother and father,” instead, heralding his new love interest that would become his wife. And even more strangely, after a few times, he went back to singing the original lyric.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Expect the Worst

From Foreign Legion

When I feel my absolute worst, when something is really really bothering me, I usually pop in Foreign Legion before too long. I may even skip the first two tracks. The first I’ll hear is “Metaphor,” and then I’ll hear “Expect the Worst.” Why? “Expect the Worst” sounds like it was written and recorded in the pits of hell itself, and when I’m feeling my worst, it feels like I’m in good company to listen to this song.

Here I will add that the story line featured in Foreign Legion that I mentioned in the “Sugar Mama” entry shares a lot in common with Weezer’s sophomore album Pinkerton in that both follow very similar storylines of terrible feelings of loneliness to meeting someone with whom the two protagonists can find love and understanding. I’ve come to realize this as I tend to listen to both of these recordings when I’m feeling my worst, and like “Expect the Worst,” there are a couple of songs on Pinkerton, occurring at about the same place on that record, that sound as if they too were written in the pits of hell as well. But I digress…

I work with lots of pessimists, and I’ve noticed a small point that this song makes. It is one thing for a pessimist to expect the worst because he or she will always assume he or she is right. But anyone who can expect the worst because he or she knows other people will know he or she is right, that’s really saying something.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Ushuaia

From Awkward Middle Phase: Seth Timbs' Home Demos, Volume One

Ushuaia is the southern-most city in the world, and Seth Timbs had a very vivid dream about living there, strangely, before he even knew anything about the city itself. He did a little research after the initial dream and used it to concoct a story about the city. Seth then added delightfully clever little zingers throughout, particularly “the bastard sons of dead explorers” and, “fell into the crease of their maps.”

Crossing the finish-line at just over six minutes, this longest Fluid Ounces song has an epic feel to it that reminds me of Smashing Pumpkins, primarily because of the long outro that ends the song and adds at least another minute to its running time. I think its length takes away from my enjoyment of it, along with its falsetto chorus whose words I don’t entirely understand to this day. This song only had a brief stint of being played live in early 2001, debuting the same night as “Paperweight Machine” in December, 2000, before it was retired when Jason Dietz left the band, taking his unmistakable lead bass with him.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

One Tough Customer

Unreleased Track

One of the two known Fluid Ounces songs to be written in Los Angeles about Los Angeles, “One Tough Customer” is about a young biker covered with tattoos, trying at a young age to show the world how tough he is despite his young age.

I somehow doubt that he’s earned his Red Wings though.

The song was debuted in 2004 at The Whole Shebang record release party during Seth Timbs’ solo set, and it was given the full-band treatment in early 2006, though only for a couple of shows. It is debated by all of us who know about both versions as to which is better, but I always thought Tha B’s guitar intro that drives the song throughout was more appropriate to the song’s subject matter than the piano. I’ll allow everyone to decide now by providing both versions here for download, with number one being solo from July 3, 2004, and the second being the full band from January 19, 2006, at the Basement in Nashville.

Download Live mp3 (solo)

Download Live mp3 (full band)

Ultimately, I was glad that it was retired and, more importantly, not given a slot on the valuable real estate that is Instant Nostalgia, which is the first record to be released since I’ve been a fan that has all the songs I wanted on it and none of the songs I hoped would be omitted.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

How to Be Happy

From Instant Nostalgia

“This one’s for Malin,” says Seth Timbs before playing this song, referring to his wife, whom he met while playing with the Secret Commonwealth.

As one of the last Fluid Ounces songs written, we get a snapshot of a very different Seth Timbs from the one we’ve gotten to know through the years listening to all the records. We’ve gotten to know him through his largely autobiographical songs about the ills of love and relationships as a fun, sensitive guy with his heart on his sleeve. Suddenly though, erased like sand castles on the beach are “Bigger Than the Both of Us” and “The Last Thing.” All the “Record Stack”s, “Private Hell”s, and other songs are still with us to enjoy, but Seth has moved on to a new phase in his life.

I’m not sure if happiness is the supreme state of human emotions as so many advertise it and still others strive for it with such great desperation, but I do know that truly and deeply experiencing happiness is indeed something to treasure. As I have listened to this song, it has occurred to me that it is truly an amazing thing to find someone who can teach one how to be happy, and that it is a wonderful compliment to pay someone to acknowledge that they he or she provided a person with such a rare and wonderful gift. Its bedroom setting makes it the most intimate Fluid Ounces song (even though others, like “Burning Daylight,” may have a more romantic feel), especially in its beautiful second verse, which is my favorite part of the song.

It reaches its crux, and perhaps the denouement of all things Fluid Ounces as the lesson of all the years rings out when he says at the end of this song,
"We should know by now
it's enough, just to love and be loved
Ev'rything else is gonna slip through your fingers."

“H2BH” also features dual guitar solos, the first being Seth’s, probably his best lead guitar work ever, followed by Tha B’s, which is played to close out the song. The recorded version of the solo closely resembles the one on the live mp3 presented here from December 9, 2005, with the primary difference being that we can actually hear Brian tear his guitar a new one as he beats out a three-peated chord in the middle of the solo as the band pauses to bow down to him in perfect time.

Download Live mp3

Monday, November 12, 2007

Liquorish Vampires

From Big Notebook for Easy Piano and Remember Cassettes, Vol. 1

In Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a college town full of aspiring musicians and recording industry majors, it always seems like a good idea: a local, independently-owned coffee shop that caters to local hipsters, giving them a place to study, socialize, or just hang out and look cool. To make the place even cooler, have live music. Sounds like money in the bank, right? Then why have so many sprung up in Murfreesboro, only to close their doors after a short time, while simple beer holes like the Boro and Gentleman Jim’s can stay in business forever? I don’t think there is an answer.

But one such place was called Java, and it was open in the early to mid-nineties. There, the Features would play their first show. Seth Timbs and the Mad Hatters would play their first few shows there as well. Seth Timbs was employed there around that time. In fact, one night, apparently while he was working, his friends Matt Mahaffey and Richard Williams met there and the three of them discussed starting an independent label based in Murfreesboro to showcase the local talent, especially Matt’s new band Self and Seth’s new band, Fl. Oz. Without deliberation, Seth suggested that it be called Spongebath Records, and a local legend was born. So the story goes, at least.

“Liquorish Vampires” was written about Seth’s experiences working there, with people coming in at all hours of the night and the strange hours they would keep to study.

Beyond that, I don’t really know what this song is actually about. Being schooled in lyrics by R.E.M., I too easily accept the lyrics as lines completely independent of each other that only work together to create a feeling in its listener (I know, I know, then why am I of all people writing a blog about interpreting the lyrics of others?). With this song and “Daddy Scruff,” I simply enjoy them and interpret them based on the feelings they convey rather than their intended themes. Sorry to cop out on you like that.

The live mp3 is the last one that surfaced from the 2005 radio performance.

Download Live mp3

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Downscope, the Boat Captain

From In the New Old-Fashioned Way

In an epic tale reminiscent of Colonel Kurtz, Emperor Palpatine, or George W. Bush, a military leader, drunk with power and sure that his twisted and insane vision is the only way to achieve true world peace (and in this case, probably more than a little bit bitter that he’s “the last sea dog to sail under water”), runs his submarine aground, causing a fire (“with oil from the engine and bits of propeller”) that burns away the ocean, leaving the sea bottom “as dry as the desert/ and the last pools of water were baked by the sun.”

Live, this song is among the shortest songs in the Fluid Ounces catalog, finishing up at two and a half minutes. In the New Old-Fashioned Way would not have been complete without this song, but the only place where it could work was sort of separate from the rest. So it was tacked on the end. In order to become the kind of epic closer the CD needed, an additional two-minute instrumental was added to give the dramatic ending a haunting coda, featuring Brian Rogers’ quirky guitar and Seth on accordion with Sam Baker playing with the dial on a short-wave radio. The sounds you hear as the frequencies shift were just what happened to be broadcast as Sam was doing so, including the “I tell you something, I’ve never felt so much love in my life,” which he serendipitously stumbled upon.

The live mp3 presented here is from the In the New Old-Fashioned Way CD release party from 1999 and features a wonderfully quiet first chorus to contrast the epic second chorus (whereas they’re both equally epic on the studio version).

Download Live mp3

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Encyclopedia Brown

From Foreign Legion

When you’re a kid with an older brother, it’s almost assured that the music that he likes is the music that you like. In the late eighties and very early nineties, my brother was into monster ballads a la “November Rain,” and “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” and so was I. I was always the one listening to music: I always had a record player and a tape deck while he usually didn’t. Even though we didn’t own copies of these songs that he liked so much, it was still our favorite. When I actually started listening to rock radio in 1993 and started to begin to form my own opinions, my older brother steered me in the direction of R.E.M., U2, and Smashing Pumpkins. These bands would be my favorites throughout most of high school, and the opinions of bands I’d later encounter were all ultimately based on how they compared with these three acts. By the time I went to college, my musical tastes had shifted dramatically. Although I still loved the bands that then formed the center of my listening (though U2 was faltering, driving their last nail in the coffin when they released Pop), I had branched out into the Beatles, Sonic Youth, Self, and many others that my brother didn’t get into, no matter how much I played them for him.

When I went to my first Fluid Ounces show in January of 2000, I was fairly new to the scene of hearing live music in local bars, but it was starting to feel like old hat. I was loving it immediately, and when they played “Encyclopedia Brown,” a song about a book character whom my brother had read about when he was in middle school, early in the set, I thought he might enjoy hearing this band. I saw them again when they played their next show the following month, and this time I had my brother in tow. I was worried that he would be uncomfortable in the setting of a smoky dive-like bar like the Boro. His love for the music over-shadowed the setting, and I then had someone to attend shows with me, which I’d never had before. And what’s more, I finally recommended a band to him that he liked! Through this, I’d introduce him to other bands he’d like, such as the Features and De Novo Dahl, but Fluid Ounces’ prominent place in his listening repertoire was a crowning achievement in giving back to him what he’d given to me when I was younger (and thus saving my impressionable mind from liking Aerosmith and Meat Loaf).

Like my brother, Seth Timbs was a fan of the Encyclopedia Brown book series when he was younger, and this song pays homage to the prepubescent detective by crossing the mystery of a teacher’s stolen grade book with that of a young temptress who charms our hero as a ruse so that she can commit her terrible crime. Hit by a BB gun, our hero is hurt and realizes that he has been out-smarted by this middle-school femme fatale. Ultimately, he manages to solve the case and recover the grade book from a secret place, making the neighborhood safe for middle America once again.

The live version presented here, with a solo every bit as magnificent as the one on the recording, is from February 2, 2002, at Seth Timbs’ last Tennessee show before he shipped of to L.A.

Download Live mp3

And for those of us who teach nowadays, we have police officers posted in our schools to drag grade book thieves downtown to juvi if they don’t come quietly or fess up to their crime in a timely fashion.

Monday, November 5, 2007

What the Hell?

From Awkward Middle Phase: Seth Timbs' Home Demos, Volume One

Many songs have proven that Seth Timbs is a romantic at heart, but this song stands out to me as it is the only Fluid Ounces song that takes that romanticism to the level of being—get ready for it—conservative. Normally we find Fluid Ounces songs to feature a moral ambiguity to them, but here is a song taking the moral high road.

This is one of many Fluid Ounces songs in which we are shown scenes from a party for college-aged people. This “army of Katies and Heathers” is wowed by any cute boy who can play a few guitar chords (a little bit wrong) as they,
cling to the wall like Helen Keller,
wondering which lucky boy’s gonna be their
Anne Bancroft
And teach them all that they know.
(in a delicious double reference to both The Miracle Worker and The Graduate, though the second may have been unintentional). The song laments their laissez-faire attitude toward new-found college freedom in a sexually-charged world they may not be ready for. It even takes a step further in mentioning their haste to dismiss church as a time for luring boys (“Sunday go to meet in dresses/ open button for playfulness”). The closing lines best sum up the whole song as a girl asks a frat boy/douche bag,
“Play me a song that makes a girl into a lady
I know the image won’t portray me well
It’s nice to think it’s true
There’s nothing to lose
So what the hell?”

The song was written as Seth Timbs was pulling double duty in both Fluid Ounces and Spike and Mallets, and I always thought this one sounded more like a Spike and Mallets song. I don’t know what factor made it a Fluid Ounces song. It was played during Sam Baker’s second stint with the band and retired when Seth left for Los Angeles. The live video is from the porch of the Red Rose Coffee House on August 24, 2001, and it features one of the most hilarious examples of classic Fluid Ounces stage banter afterward as Seth discusses on of his first trips to Japan.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Burning Daylight

Unreleased Track

Situated at the Eastern edge of the Central Time Zone, Middle Tennessee, for all of its richness with autumn colors, becomes a dark place to live after switching to Standard Time from Daylight Savings Time, with dusk occurring around 5 o’clock at first and 4:30 by the time we get to the shortest day of the year on December 21st. Although “Burning Daylight” does not specifically reference either of these events, its delicate sound always conjures images of the yellow, orange and gold of both the warm October sunlight and changing autumn leaves as they quietly whisk us away to a quiet place where two lovers can spend a day alone together, away from all that distracts them, where they can simply enjoy each other and do absolutely nothing else. And in those perfect and unending moments, where nothing is happening except the passing of time, the sparse percussion reminds us of the sound of color-changing forests as the “ooh la la”s mimic the birds just before they migrate to warmer climates. The words themselves are a romantic invitation to a lover to leave and come away with the speaker that echoes the more recent “Come On Out,” and the sheer beauty of the sound makes it hard to believe that anyone could resist, especially since the music alone draws so many of us in so quickly and thoroughly.

Download mp3

Thursday, November 1, 2007

To Cure the Lonely

From the yet-to-be-released Instant Nostalgia

When Fluid Ounces began performing live again in 2004 with what is probably its final line-up, they mostly played songs that showcased the fantastic The Whole Shebang. They played two songs that had been played a couple of months before at the record release party, “Come On Out” and “Millionaire Meets Millionaire,” both of which made it onto the yet-to-be-released Instant Nostalgia. The third song that made its true debut during this time was “To Cure the Lonely.”

Seth Timbs had just moved back to Tennessee in the wake of his first marriage, and the songs that he wrote during the time that followed were often a dramatic return to songs of heartbreak and despair. “Private Hell” and “Oh, Tatiana” are two of the bigger “hits” to come out of that time. This downbeat waltz asks as its central question, “If truth is stranger than fiction, then why can’t we all have someone with us to cure the lonely affliction?” I went through my own divorce in 2005, and I found a soothing sense of familiarity in hearing these songs during that time, that someone else had gone through something similar and had felt the way that I was feeling.

Seth had played this song with Brian Pitts on the radio on Steve Cross’s show that summer before, and when I downloaded the song, it quickly became the most-played song in my iTunes collection. The full-band version from Instant Nostalgia is very good as well, but I haven’t had quite the love for the song since the wake of my divorce, and therefore haven’t listened to it as much. The live version is currently sitting at #2 in my total number of plays, and it has still been played over 80 times on my iPod. I'm presenting the live acoustic version here.

Download Live mp3

Monday, October 29, 2007

Make It Through

From The Whole Shebang

This song debuted in March, 2001, and has the distinction of being by far the most-performed Fluid Ounces song over the last six years. Its up-beat nature would have made it feel right on the yet-to-be-released Instant Nostalgia, but it works very well on The Whole Shebang. Despite being played at nearly every show (I can only think of about two in which it hasn’t been played), I’m not quite tired of hearing it. I still love the lines, “After winter comes spring.
After summer comes fall.
You gotta rob Peter to pay Paul.
You gotta get paid and blow it all.”
Its solo is very scripted, but I find it one of my favorite moments in the live set to see in what ways Brian “Tha B” Rogers is going to find to add subtle changes. And I also love when Seth adds “Da da da”s to the solo like he does so very quietly on the record.

The stuttering drumbeat that gives this song its signature makes it almost impossible to dance to it (to do a dance that has a name, at least), but it isn’t uncommon for a few people to get up and shake it a little when this song gets played live. And though definitely debatable, I might consider this the quintessential Fluid Ounces song of the late era (though “Private Hell” gives it a run for its money).

The live version I’m presenting here is probably the most energetic performance I remember hearing, which is from the first Mike Mahaffey Tribute show, and it features Seth, Brian G. Pitts, Brian Rogers, and Matt Mahaffey on drums. A testament to all of their musicianship is that they had only held one brief practice with Matt and came out playing amazingly tight together.

Download Live mp3

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Daddy Scruff

From Big Notebook for Easy Piano

I am typing this entry behind considerable shielding as I am preparing for slings and arrows to be launched in my general direction for what I’m about to say.

“Daddy Scruff” should have been left off of Big Notebook for Easy Piano. As a stand-alone song, perhaps released on Soaking in the Center of the Universe, I might have liked it better. But as it stands, we get just under six plodding minutes of vague lyrics near the middle of the record that nearly ruin everything that comes before it and after it in the track listing. “Shamrock” and “Tricky Fingers” launch the record and set its tone: fun-sounding songs about darker subject matter. “Birdbrained” cools things off a bit as we have a more intense number that is decidedly less upbeat as the previous two songs, and then we get an even more downbeat number with “Liquorish Vampires.” The momentum of the record and the tone established in the first two songs is teetering as we’ve just had two numbers in a row that have deviated from what they’ve done. Then comes “Daddy Scruff,” sticking out like a sore thumb from the rest. When “Record Stack” begins five minutes and forty-six seconds later, it seems off kilter as it returns to the original sound and tone set by the first two songs on the record and allows us to finally start listening to a cohesive record. I put lots of thought into how the tracks could be readjusted to not kill the momentum of the record, but in the end, the removal of “Daddy Scruff” is all I can come up with to give Big Notebook a chance to compete with In the New-Old Fashioned Way and Instant Nostalgia as my favorite Fluid Ounces record.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sucker

From The Vegetable Kingdom EP & the Japanese release of In the New Old-Fashioned Way

Relationships are funny things. It’s funny how people can overlook so much because of what they call “love.” The fear of being alone again, that dreaded condition in the unknown, will push too many people into terrible places. In this song, our poor speaker is in such a relationship, willing to put up with his lover’s extra-curricular activities because, as he says,
“I’ve been around before;
I’ve seen the good and the bad.
I’ve been around before,
And this is the best I’ve had.”

This song stands out among the rest as it has the most outright jazz feel to it of any Fluid Ounces song. The vocal melody is as poppy as the rest, but the sparse piano against the rest of the instruments playing like an all-out jazz combo (including an upright bass) make for a fresh feel to the song. Add Brian Rogers’ lovely harmonies to the top on the final chorus, and I might even go so far as to call this song a masterpiece.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Metaphor

From Foreign Legion

As I teach the concept in my middle school reading class, a metaphor is a comparison that does not use like or as. Seventh graders can use that as a simple definition to distinguish metaphors from similes. That’s all they need it for, that’s as far as they think about it, and that’s as far as their minds can take it because they’re still developing their ability to process abstract concepts.

As we get older, some realize that our entire method of conceptualizing the world around us is steeped in metaphors. Whether it’s, “Life’s a bitch,” “Everything is Free,” or, “God is Love,” all of these, for better or worse, are metaphors, not to mention how American dialect is full of idioms, all of which are technically metaphors as well. Sometimes I wonder if we are even capable of completely extricating metaphors from our perception of the world around us.

“There is a metaphor to explain it all,” sings Seth Timbs as this song opens, brushing by this notion. He then unleashes a slew of intentionally cliché metaphors to describe a relationship gone awry. The second verse attempts to find a more suitable metaphor to specifically describe the speaker in his present situation (including a “pensive drag left holding the bag,” the last time in which Seth Timbs referred to himself as a “drag” was in Ella Minopy’s song, “Science Fiction”).

The most clever twist thrown into the whole thing is when we hear the lines, “I should be over it by now/ I should be happy as a clam/ My metaphor’s a simile,” then altering the final chorus to a series of similes before returning to the intro melody and ending this song with a series of loud sighs.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Joao and Latin Playboys @ Baird Lane

From Awkward Middle Phase: Seth Timbs' Home Demos, Volume One

Two for the price of one today. Both of these are short instrumentals from volume one of the demo collection, which it now seems may become a multi-volume set after all, and neither demo really sounds like Fluid Ounces.

The title, “Latin Playboys @ Baird Lane,” puts a name to the feel of this track: that of Euro trash in off-white suits and pink shirts with large lapels and no tie, swilling frou-frou drinks from martini glasses as they try to impress large-breasted, WASPy American girls with their expensive European convertibles against an orange and pink sunset at some California mansion (more than likely located on Baird Lane). As they are running combs through their greasy, black pony-tailed hair, this is the music playing through the bass-heavy custom sound systems in their cars.

The most funk-infleunced Fluid Ounces moment, titled “Joao,” (no, I don’t know how to pronounce it either) reminds me of the short instrumental throw-aways that can sometimes be found between tracks on R.E.M. records. After a short bass solo, the song ends, and there’s nothing else I can think of to say about it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Selma Lou

From The Whole Shebang

I may be the only one who thinks this, but I think Fluid Ounces could become a country act with only slight changes made to the way many of the songs are played. The wordplay is cleverer than anything you’ll find in country music, but it is a lyrical structure used in country much more than the pop rock world. Early favorites like “Drought,” “Comfortable,” and (dare I say?) “Record Stack” could become country music without too many changes, as “Poet Tree” and almost any song from The Whole Shebang or Instant Nostalgia could definitely qualify. I’ve often wondered why Seth Timbs hasn’t tried shopping these songs among the suits on music row (especially while he was working for them) to see if any larger country act might use the songs, creating a new way to breathe life into the tunes, earning some money for his efforts from days of yore, and helping to create more of a name for himself simply as a songwriter.

It took Seth Timbs moving to Los Angeles to finally write and record an all-out country song (after seeing too many Felix Wiley shows, as he said when I first heard this song performed in 2003), and I think it could be the front runner for his attempts at marketing his music in Nashville’s big business. The band has gradually increased the tempo of this number as they’ve performed it over the last few years, making it even easier to imagine a bluegrass band picking up this song and making a radio hit of it.

The story is entirely fabricated, perhaps a little inspired by the film Cool Hand Luke, in which prison workers stop and salivate as an attractive female sexily washes her car while they are forced to watch and continue their labors. The version we get is that of a laborer working for the local Southern aristocrat on an expansive farm who meets his boss’s daughter and has a short-lived affair with her. He simultaneously revels in feelings the playtime sparked in him and laments that it was meaningless to her, with its good-as-gold chorus, “Selma Lou, this whole world’s gonna fall in love with you/ and I think I might do it too.”

The live mp3 is another performance from Steve Cross's radio show in which Seth Timbs plays acoustic guitar and Brian G. Pitts plays bass.

Download Live mp3

Monday, October 15, 2007

Go Lucky

From In the New Old-Fashioned Way

There are lots of songs pertaining to a break-up on In the New Old-Fashioned Way, but “Go Lucky” stands alone as the one coming closest to celebrating it. This kiss-off song kind of meanders through a lot of emotions, from wanting to pin her down and not let her go to saying, “Don’t come crying to me.” The details of the relationship are no longer important (“Who got forgiven, and who got the business, and who just got the silent treatment?”), and our speaker is hearing about his lover second-hand (“Someone sent a letter…”). He hears she is going through similar stages, as she is going through a drinking phase while he is getting drunk watching sixty minutes alone. In the end, “don’t come cryin’ to me,” is a good maxim for our newly freed speaker, since time and wisdom have taught so many of us that staying away from exes for a long time after a relationship’s end is a good thing.

This song features the line, “Might be the new thing getting older each time,” which is the closest reference to the CD’s title, In the New Old-Fashioned Way that we’ll hear anywhere on the record. I have often wondered if this line is what caused the band to reference Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” for the title of their most monumental record.

“Go Lucky” was another frequent set-closer for the band with the original line-up and again in 2001. As much as I have always loved this song, I was usually sad to hear it because it meant that the set was over.

The first video is a fan-made video that uses the song with footage from the science fiction show Firefly, and the second is yet another from October 10, 1997. You can’t miss it, but I love when Seth Timbs stops playing in between couplets to take a swig of beer before jumping back into the song.



Saturday, October 13, 2007

Master Plan and Pet Rock

Unreleased Track

A metaphor for the music industry, “Master Plan and Pet Rock” is the story of two rappers who embody the great divide between business-savvy acts who tirelessly work to push their *usually* less-inspired work to as wide a demographic as possible (and I’m not just talking about the concept of “selling out” here either—most people who are successful are genuinely trying to make original music that they truly love) versus the myriad of talented, inspired musicians who have little to no concept of how to market their often ground-breaking music, especially against a resistant major label system that wants all music in neat piles of pigeon holes to maximize profits and create a profitable (and predictable) music market.

For example, the Kings of Leon hail Nashville as their hometown, but they are often scorned for doing so because they only played about two shows here before circumventing the local music scene and acquiring international success. They cozied up to major-label suits, and within two years they were “indie rock” darlings opening for U2.

Meanwhile, the Features, a band whose former employees claim that anything good that happens to them happens accidentally due to gross mismanagement, played locally for ten years and fought hard to get a record released on a major label, only to become the opening act for Kings of Leon before being dropped by their label shortly thereafter.

The biggest difference? Business savvy.

Come to think of it, anyone ever involved with Spongebath Records probably falls into the latter category.

The first rapper we meet in the song is Master Plan, whose name sounds like that of a successful rapper. He has his business degree and is entirely uninspired in all that he raps about, spewing clichés but still categorized as “promising.”

Then we meet Pet Rock, whose name is terrible in any music circle, who knows how to rap. People can’t get enough of him, even if he’s working a day job and living in a trailer park, probably signing away some of his profits by becoming a “registered trademark of Master Plan, LLC.”

Departing from the typical Fluid Ounces song structure, this demo features a keyboard and some very un-Seth guitar leads, and I think its biggest shortcoming is the way that it fizzles out at the end, simply repeating, “Why don’t you throw that demo on after this song?” I often wonder what would have become of this song if it had gotten the full-band treatment in any Seth Timbs project (though I’m not sure with which, if any, of them it would have fit at all).

Download mp3

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Spill Your Brains

From Big Notebook for Easy Piano

I was a bit disappointed when I found out that this song was about Alanis Morissette. Seth Timbs was obviously singing about someone he didn’t like, but finding out that it was her took a lot of the fun out of it, especially compared to Self’s “Moronic,” which did a much better job of putting that hack in her place. But, to be sure, this is a much better song than “Moronic.” In fact, it has been my favorite song off of Big Notebook since about the second time I heard the record. Finding out that it was about Alanis took a song that seemed so big and fun and placed an expiration date on it, putting it into a small little cubby hole reserved for “Peaches,” “Today,” and a slew of other songs dated specifically to the mid-90s.

I can’t put my finger on exactly why this song is such a favorite of mine, but I know a lot of people who really like it. I guess it’s because there’s a certain familiarity, and maybe even a little flirtiness (“you’re made of Estee Lauder,” “and getting prettier by the moment’s notice”) with the subject that made the relationship seem more complex than just someone who got played waaaaay too much on the radio.

It remains one of the few Fluid Ounces songs which I’ve never heard performed live in any capacity, recorded or otherwise, so there’s no download for this one.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Oh, Tatiana

From the yet-to-be-released Instant Nostalgia

A song about yearning for a lover with the Eastern European feel (slowed down, this one would be a great tango, but they play it too fast to be a tango) similar to what we hear in “Paperweight Machine” and “Record Stack.” My initial distaste with this song was simply in the choice of the name of its subject: I thought that “Tatiana” was just too obvious of a choice for an exotic-sounding foreign name that’s four syllables long. As I listened to it more on live recordings, I started liking all the lyrics other than when it refers to the lover in question. It just seemed too easy to fit that generic name in there! Meanwhile, I discovered another one of my all-time favorite passages of Fluid Ounces lyrics in this song:
“Cause if one don’t get you
Then the other one will
In a major motion picture
or a rocking chair
You gotta land somewhere
It’s always sooner or later
Hither and yon
One minute you’re here
And the next you’re gone
You gotta be someone
You gotta love someone
You gotta know the end
Before it’s even begun
And be glad
Life is long
Yes, life is long
Say good-bye
But not for long”

Like “Vegetable Kingdom,” this song ambiguously addresses a very raw form of human longing, one that goes deeper than just a man loving a woman: more of a feeling that humans are somehow searching for a sense of becoming complete, most often attaching that feeling to loving another person. The delivery of these lines is the most frantic you’ll ever hear a Fluid Ounces song, begging for life itself to slow down to take stock of everything around.

The conclusion I reached is that in the end, Tatiana is like Don Quixote’s Dulcinea (another four-syllable, exotic name, though only slightly better than “Tatiana”), that she is more of an idea than a person, that she has a greater impact on the human psyche as an idea of inner peace than as just a woman, and that maybe, just maybe, she’ll only be found in death.

Courtesy of Steve Cross’s website, I’m posting an amazing acoustic performance of this song, with Seth Timbs on guitar and Brian G. Pitts on bass, from a radio appearance on WMTS on July 24, 2005.

Download Live mp3

You can hear the studio version over at the band’s MySpace page since we’re still waiting on the release of Instant Nostalgia.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

City Lights

From the Japanese release of Foreign Legion

I decided early on that I would not ask Seth Timbs about songs for this blog, instead relying on my own interpretations and my uncanny ability to remember what has already been said about them at past live shows. But “City Lights” baffled me, appearing as a demo on the Japanese release of Foreign Legion, never being played live, and sharing the writing credit between Seth Timbs and Tomoyuki Tanaka.

So the other night after the show, I asked him.

Tanaka is known in Japan by the moniker Fantastic Plastic Machine, and he mostly remixes the works of others for his own releases. When Seth was making regular trips to Japan, Tanaka contacted him and presented him with the song “City Lights” on which they could collaborate. Seth liked the changes and some of the lyrics that Tanaka had written in somewhat broken English. Once back in the states, Seth created the demo of the song that would later appear on Foreign Legion with his own similar lyrics. He presented the demo to Tanaka, and later yet another version of the song was created for release on Fantastic Plastic Machine’s 2001 CD titled Contact that featured Seth singing considerably different words over very different bossa-nova-styled music.

Contact is only available in Japan (and even I haven’t forked out the money to get that one), but you can hear the Fantastic Plastic Machine version, with Seth Timbs singing, through the video below, the discovery of which was what initially caused me to ask about this song.



Now we'll talk about the demo version. While many songs by the band Self get compared to Fluid Ounces and Seth Timbs’ style, this is the only Fluid Ounces song that really sounds anything like Matt Mahaffey’s work. I think it’s the layered vocals, sparse piano (in a sense that it isn’t the driving force to the song) and a more vibrant rhythm track than normal that lends its feel to Self more than anything, though it’s really only just a hint of Self.

To that I’ll add that Seth is most often applauded (understandably) as a piano player, and he often gets overlooked as a guitar player (which is also understandable in the ocean of guitar players that is Nashville). But here Seth shows off his bass chops like I’ve never heard! I’d love to see Seth play bass in a live band just for the change—as if seeing him play guitar in Hot New Singles for entire sets is still not strange enough.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Destined to Be Forgotten

From The Whole Shebang

This remarkable song has only been performed live once (to my knowledge, at least), and its history is a twisted one. Produced by Matt Mahaffey, both he and Seth Timbs discussed this song in separate interviews, the former for Ink 19 and the latter for Popmatters. I have placed the two parts together for you here:

Seth: “I could never get the band to play it. They all thought it was too dismal. And one of the times I went out to visit California before I moved there, I saw Matt Mahaffey, and we had a whole day off, and he said, ‘We're gonna record "Destined To Be Forgotten" today. It pisses me off that you've never done that song.’ I'm like, ‘Okay! I love that song.’”

Matt: “It's one of his many songs that would have stayed in his closet for the rest of his life, so I said 'let's record it and you let me do whatever I want to on it,' since he's known for being very particular in the studio. So we finished it and he said it was one of the best songs he's ever recorded.”

The song was written sometime in the late 90s when the original line-up vetoed working it into their live sets. After being recorded later, it was initially considered for release on Foreign Legion, and I’m glad it was left off as its production style would have clashed with the rest of the record. I had heard rumors of the song since reading the Mahaffey interview in 2000, and was initially disappointed when it wasn’t on Foreign Legion, but equally excited when I saw that it had made its way on to The Whole Shebang, where it is the perfect closer for that record.

The subject matter of the song is another eulogy of sorts, this time for a relationship that is either long ended or coming to its bitter end. The speaker is lamenting the good times of this relationship, sad that the happy memories are now locked away in soon-to-be-forgotten history book as he knows both parties will be moving on with their lives and on to other relationships.

Being entirely produced by Matt Mahaffey, who added backing vocals (his first appearance on a Fluid Ounces record since his guitar offerings on “Shamrock” from Big Notebook), with bass provided by Mac Burrus, who collaborated with Seth in the first line-up of Moonie and the Johndogs as well as on the writing of a couple of songs, “Destined to Be Forgotten,” has a unique sound to it, not even mentioning the drums provided by Kelly Scott, who played with Failure and Tool, whose style is heavier than the drummers we’ve heard on Fluid Ounces records before.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Luxury

From In the New Old-Fashioned Way

I had just started dating someone when I purchased and became obsessed with In the New Old-Fashioned Way, and she came from a family with a lot more money than just about anyone I know. She told me about how her parents celebrated her sister’s wedding by renting a large house for a week and throwing a continuous alcohol-drenched party the entire time. She wasn’t pretentious, mind you, but instead one of the last people you’d ever think came from a wealthy family. If George Harrison had ever showed up at one of her house parties, none of them would have made a big deal about it, probably not even mentioning it later on. She might have mentioned it very matter-of-factly, the same way she told me she’d acted in movies or been a model. Surprises like that keep a relationship very interesting. I think of her every time I hear the recorded version of this song about going to a party where everyone was very pretentious.

“Luxury” is one of three album releases by Fluid Ounces that does not credit Seth Timbs as the sole composer. Curiously, it is credited to all original band members, making me wonder if the song initially developed out of a jam during rehearsals. Filled with pauses for individual instrumental riffs throughout, it has more of a jam nature to it than any of the songs on the record. My favorite moment in the song was developed long after the song was recorded (and after this video from 10-10-97). After Seth sings, “A cousin Alice in Vermont,” in subsequent live performances, the whole band would pause while the drummer hits two roaring beats before the band kicks back in and the lyric finishes, “has got a husband who’s a general.”

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Rest Stop

From Awkward Middle Phase: Seth Timbs' Home Demos, Volume One

A song about an epiphany. The end of a movie told in a song, with its own soundtrack included.

A man wakes up, at a rest stop in Carolina, after the worst day of his so far (which reminds me of the joke in The Simpsons Movie, though the song was written much earlier, in which “so far” is used to imply that things could easily get much worse for the person). He hasn’t hit bottom in his life because of “drugs or addiction, or anything promiscuous,” he’s just down on his luck, a situation that most people with middle-class values have trouble accepting.

And in some moment of clarity, the man drives away into the sunrise, remarkably discarding all of the problems behind him to start his life over again. You’ve only met him for two minutes or so, but you can’t help but wish him the best as the music swells. You can almost see the end credits roll as the car drives off into the horizon.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Role Call

From Big Notebook for Easy Piano

“Everyone’s a theologian,” a college professor once told me, “some are just better than others.” If understanding God is indeed learning to ask the right questions, perhaps asking, “What are we going to do if there is (or isn’t) a God?” is a better question than simply asking, “Is there a God?” “Role Call” is the culmination of all the religious imagery that buzzes around on Big Notebook and its only b-side, “Sick,” and it asks the former, perhaps more important question.

Throughout all his writings, Seth Timbs so fluently uses a familiarity with the vocabulary of Christian religion that I’ve always wondered exactly what kind of background he has with it, sometimes hearing hints of high church and other times noticing references more reminiscent of country churches and gospel music. He explored the topic of religion extensively when he was younger and playing with The Mad Hatters and before, as if struggling to come to terms with what he had been raised to believe, culminating in the hilarious, “Religious Interpretations,” with its chorus,
“Jesus lives in me
But I don’t know where he’s hiding
No, I don’t know where he’s hiding
Jesus lives in me
But I think he’s playing racquetball today.”

Older and wiser, Seth more seriously (but not too seriously) tackles the subject throughout Big Notebook, with “Role Call” at the center. Its title itself is a play on “roll,” as in a list of people belonging to a certain group, whereas “role” is a part played by an actor—the Greek word from which we derived the word hypocrite. With its countless metaphors, the song refers to dying and reaching the afterlife, being somewhat uneasy of what the outcome might be when it comes time to settle up accounts with “the boss upstairs.” And so he says, “I wish I wasn’t me” (another reference to being an actor and the title “role”), wishes he was lost in the mountains of paperwork (likening the inner workings of heaven to an elaborate bureaucracy), or would happily accept the “combo plate” at the expensive feast for all the honored saints in the afterlife.

There is no clear resolution to the plight in this song, but the chorus seems to come the closest to the heart of the matter,
“Where the Angels fear to tread,
Where it goes straight to your head,
And you’re left for dead,
where I wish I was.”
Put simply, he would prefer for death to be the end of it all as opposed to going through with the mind-games of religion (“Where the angels…to your head”) in hopes of finding some eternal reward or punishment after this life.

The live recording presented here is from The Whole Shebang CD release party on July 3, 2004, performed during Seth’s solo set. To this day, my favorite part of this entire show’s expansive recording is in this song, about two minutes and five seconds in, when you hear a sorostitute exclaim, “Damn! He’s good!” while standing in front of the microphones I was using to record the show. The piano interludes and speed with which he plays this truly sounds like he’s having a good time up there, making for a pleasant listening experience.

Download Live mp3

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sugar Mama

From Foreign Legion

In my mind, Foreign Legion tells a story: it starts out in exposition about a musician and then descends into a story of his terrible break-up. Just when things look their worst, the protagonist meets a great girl and reaches a state of contentment, ending the story on a high note. Then, as the denouement, he goes stark raving mad. There are two interludes in the story, however, when the songs move from first to third person, and we are introduced to some completely separate characters in their own strangely-related narratives. The second interlude is “Encyclopedia Brown,” whose story loosely parallels a lesson that our protagonist has perhaps learned as he has been hurt by a beautiful woman and learned to be more careful with the fairer sex.

The first interlude in the overall story is “Sugar Mama,” a “torrid, torrid song,” as Seth Timbs once described it, which hints at a sense of desperation in both of its characters that parallels the story arc of the entire record. The song starts out with one of the jazziest moments on the record, which is indicative of the shift in sound following the previous two records, which were laden with lots of jazz-influenced moments and arrangements, moving toward the heavier chord structures and fewer toe-tapping moments of the last three records, as the rest of this song exemplifies, especially in its bridge.

In “Sugar Mama,” we are introduced to a college-aged pizza delivery boy from a “bong and basement world,” who has a chance encounter with a middle-aged woman to whom he delivers a pizza and ends up having a Mrs.-Robinson-type affair. Our awkward delivery boy is “young enough to please her lonely curiosity,” while she is, “old enough to be his every dream.” The song climaxes (literally) during the magnificent and epic bridge, when sexual tension gives way to coitus for our star-crossed lovers, both asking themselves,
“Was it as good as you’d have it to be?
Was it as good as that?
Was it as good as you thought it would be?
Was it all that?
Was it as good as you’d have it to be?
Was it all that?”
The layered vocals, piano solo, and lead guitar doubled with “doo doo doo” slow down as we return to a pensive reality, jarred back into it with a “jiggle and slap,” and the realization that there may be ulterior motives involved on the part of the unknown partner.

This “scene from a spring break movie,” and later, “b-grade movie,” treats its subject matter like American Pie in some places, with some of the most crude sexual references you’ll ever hear in a Fluid Ounces song. On the other hand, the song is oddly sympathetic toward the older woman, who has no husband (anymore) and no children. She wants to be a girl again, understanding the plight of so many single, middle-aged women in America. The story here is morally ambiguous, but even though we presume the relationship ends as the delivery boy “leaves the apartment with a complex,” and probably never sees the older woman again, the outro of the song, which reprises the musical theme from the bridge, implies that this experience was a positive one, somehow rejuvenating our middle-aged heroine into feeling, “twenty-one again,” with its ambiguous coda, “and that’s old enough.”

This song was played live in 1998 and ’99 (the video is from spring of 1999 in Grand Rapids, Michigan) and was already regarded as a “semi-old tune” when the Doug Payne era began in January, 2000. It was retired and never played live again after Justin Meyer left the band in the summer of 2000. I was sad to see it go when the next line-up emerged a few months later, but I knew it was not gone forever since I’d heard the recorded version of the song over the PA at Sebastian’s while attending the final Self show before Matt Mahaffey moved to Los Angeles (and boy, did it make me want to get a copy of it!).

I have always really liked when songwriters make it a point to give you a sense of place in their songs. With bands like the Minutemen and Sonic Youth (as different as I know they are from Fluid Ounces), I love that they repeatedly make it a point to remind us the listeners of where they live and how it influences them. Mentioning that, “this only happens in California/ this never happens in Tennessee,” gives us a little sense of that, although I think Seth better accomplishes this same point in his music by referencing several phenomena that could only occur in the Bible Belt (“potato salad days,” “Sunday go to meet in dresses/ open button for playfulness,” etc.).

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Long Weekend

Unreleased Track

A break-up song that sounds more bittersweet than most break-up songs, I wasn’t even sure if it was a break-up song (as opposed to a “take-a-break” song or a song about a lover just being gone for a weekend) until I’d heard it many, many times. I guess that it threw me off since it debuted and was performed when Seth Timbs was immersed in a relationship with his first wife, a time when writing songs about heartache reached its career low, at least until the last batch of Fluid Ounces songs and first batch of Hot New Singles songs.

The song opens and closes with the lines,
“Blue skies in your eyes
As you said [later, “sang”] your good-byes
And I tried to lie and say I wouldn’t miss you
But I’d have to be more dead than alive
And up until now that’s been easy.”
I have discovered this concept to be true as soon as any major change occurs in life: that when sudden change strikes, you look back to just days or hours before the event and simply ask, “Was I asleep?” Whether it’s a break-up or a terrorist attack, life is filled with little wake-up calls that cause us to return to vigilance. And even if our speaker wishes he could go back (when he says, “And up until now that’s been easy”), he’s still implying that he has had just such a wake-up call.

I have always been disappointed that this song didn’t last longer being played live and that it never made it to an official release. It was written in time to have appeared on Foreign Legion, and is the only song I can think of that could have fit into that record’s near-perfect cohesion if it had been sandwiched between “Poet Tree” and “Metaphor,” throwing an actual break-up song in before a series of songs about misery and heartbreak. It could have also worked on The Whole Shebang, a record which I thought needed another track or two to nudge it over the top.

But alas, it has remained unreleased…well, until now.

Download mp3

Friday, September 21, 2007

Happy Birthday, Seth Timbs!







Have a good one!

And while I'm at it, congratulations on being a new dad.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

It All Looks Good to Me

From the yet-to-be-released Instant Nostalgia

Another feel-good hit off from the album that’s coming out (hopefully soon). It’s a short little rocker that starts out with an almost generic rock intro that quickly goes into one of the most danceable songs in the Fluid Ounces catalog. While it is too bad that one can only get about five under-arm turns in a swing dance before the song ends, the fact that it is concise keeps it fresh.

If you look at my blogger profile, you’ll notice that I use the lines, “The strain of livin’ is a terrible thing, but it does somethin’ wonderful and strange to me.” These lines were lifted from this song, and I’ve used them as a personal motto of sorts (Latin translation pending) over the last couple of years. I like the optimism presented in this song, especially in the way it presents how loving someone else can overcome the bad situations life throws at us, a theme often sought after in Fluid Ounces songs but rarely expressed so explicitly. I also love the way the rhythm of the words in the verses seem to just dance on top of the music, almost as if they are completely independent of the song, yet inextricably connected at the same time.

The live mp3 presented here is from the song’s debut at the 5 Spot on May 27, 2005.

Download Live mp3

And, for the record, I think this song is the best candidate to make the leap and become a Hot New Singles song, though it would take some considerable re-tooling to play it without the piano leads that make it pure Fluid Ounces.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Stick in the Mud

From The Vegetable Kingdom EP

The five tracks on The Vegetable Kingdom EP were recorded at the same time as the tracks that would go on In the New Old-Fashioned Way. Two of them would appear on the full-length, and three would only be on the EP. When INOFW was released in Japan, “Sucker” was attached to the end of the record, and as much as I love that song, I found that it upset the perfect balance and cohesion on what is considered the band’s masterpiece. To add anything else after the haunting, instrumental close of “Downscope, the Boat Captain” could only hurt the original track listing.

So that leaves the other two songs on the EP, “Stick in the Mud” and “Sitting Beside Myself,” which are the band’s biggest forays into “prog rock.” Of these two, “Stick in the Mud” is my lesser favorite, one of my least favorite in the Fluid Ounces canon actually. I call it “half a good song” since I like the intro and the verses, which have very nice melodies and piano parts, I but have always felt that the pre-chorus and chorus, especially the shouting of, “No more!” is one of the few moments when the song almost falls flat.

The video presented here is another from October 10, 1997, and the performance was dedicated to Nashville jazz diva Annie Sellick, who puts on an awesome show herself, and who was dating drummer Sam Baker around that time (not Tom Sellick, as the band reports in the video).

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Nobody Loves You (Like You Do)

From The Whole Shebang

“When that song started out,” Seth Timbs recalled in an interview with Pop Matters, “it was meant to be a joke. I came up with it at work one day, and thought, 'Well, that would be a funny title.' But then I started writing it, and it started getting really serious and personal, but I kept going with it.” This song could have easily been an up-beat number, using that strange sense of humor and using a happy feel to describe a sad situation, sounding like “Spill Your Brains” or “Milk Moustache” if it had been on the first record, but as Seth has matured as a songwriter, he has actually grown to a point where he could write a song like this, where he can take a sad idea and put it into a sad-sounding sad and create something beautiful, even if it doesn’t include a glimmer of hope in its lyrics.

There are times, good times, when I think that in a world where husbands love their wives and parents love their children, this song doesn’t hold much truth to it.

But then there are other times, when I think of all the loneliness and misery in the world, and this song feels so true. American culture makes it so easy to become detached from any sense of community, to cut off contact with those around us or minimize it to shallow relationships and online prattle. In those times, this song has a soothing quality to cuddle up with until I feel better.

The song shares a prominent vocal line with the Beatles song, “Don’t Let Me Down,” which I think everyone, myself included, took it upon themselves to inform Seth about when this song was being played heavily at the live shows in 2004 and early 2005. He was aware of it when he wrote it. It’s funny how he can be praised in critical circles for “quoting” Thelonious Monk in the piano solo on “Eleven:Eleven,” but won’t be treated so well when “borrowing” a vocal line from John Lennon. The recording is the only song on all of the official releases in which Seth plays the drums. Kyle Walsh played on most of the rest of The Whole Shebang, but I guess Seth felt confident enough on this number to tackle the drums himself.

This song debuted on February 2, 2002, when the band played one last show in Murfreesboro before touring Japan and “breaking up” as Seth moved to Los Angeles. Knowing that they had taken the time to work up a new song gave me hope that I wasn’t hearing the last of Fluid Ounces, that there was hope that the project would continue to live on in spite of what turned out to be a two-and-a-half-year hiatus.

The live mp3 presented here is from Exit/In in 2004.

Download Live mp3

Friday, September 14, 2007

Happy Birthday, Brian Rogers

You are the man, man. This site would suck (even worse) if it weren't for you.

If you're in the Nashville area, wish him well by being at the Fluid Ounces show tomorrow.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Milk Moustache

From Big Notebook for Easy Piano, Soaking in the Center of the Universe, Vol. 2, and Remember Cassettes, Vol. 1

Cigarettes. Drugs. Caffeine. I think there are more references to drugs in this one song than the entire rest of the canon combined. Everywhere else, the references are kind of in the background, but here the speaker relishes in all of them as only a student (or former student) at a party school in a college town could.

And what’s more, this song is fun, like more-fun-than-“Have Fun” fun. We get a quick piano intro, and then the bass exclaims, “Whoopee!” as we dive in for a three-and-a-half-minute romp that includes some of my favorite vocal harmonies to be heard on Big Notebook. In between references to various vices, we get a glimpse of a common relationship trap to plague kids in high school and college: the relationship fueled by substance abuse. From chorus to chorus, the speaker goes between wanting company and not wanting the company of his girlfriend, as if the amount of alcohol or weed or mixture thereof determines his tolerance of the girl and his willingness to pursue the relationship.

The video is from the porch of the Red Rose Coffee Shop from August 24, 2001. After the song is finished, there’s a fine example of how to conduct a sound check at a venue where you have to bring your own PA system.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Marvel Girl

From In the New Old-Fashioned Way

If you’ve ever scanned the internet for Fluid Ounces or Seth Timbs-related material, you may have noticed that it seems like nearly every review from the era of In the New Old-Fashioned Way seemed to make a point of prominently mentioning this song. I know of a couple of fans who place this song in their “Top 5” lists for the band, and although I really like the song, I can’t say I’d place it as high as they do or that I’d consider it one of the two or three most-mentionable songs on what is generally agreed to be the band’s pop masterpiece. It is another in the long line of songs that seem to hop out and greet you as only a track one song can, and I think it was entertained as being the opening track to In the New Old-Fashioned Way since it actually is the first song on the promo versions that were released.

But it is a very clever song about a comic book hero (who is also known as Jean Grey, the one played by the white Bond girl, for those of you who don’t know the X-Men beyond the movies—I always hoped this song would make it onto the soundtrack of one of the films…) with the clever lines, “Marvel Girl’s origin will be explained in the bridge,” pause, then whispers, “bridge.” Seth also exclaims, “Cities fall to rubble as her power unleashes,” which he later mentioned as fitting among the black-listed lyrics after the events of September 11, 2001. But they continued playing the song regularly anyway.

This one was played live regularly up until the latest (and probably final) line-up was christened, and it seems to have fallen permanently to the back-burner with all the new songs that Seth wrote and the large number of songs being considered for revival. Personally, I heard it live too many times and am happy that it’s strictly enjoyed at the beginning of In the New Old-Fashioned Way and remembered on live recordings now (like the video below, another from October 10, 1997, at Main Street).

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Till the Danger's Past

From the yet-to-be-released Instant Nostalgia

This is my current favorite Fluid Ounces song.

Following the footsteps of “Record Stack,” “Fool Around,” “Big Deal (Out of Nothing),” and a few others I’m sure, Seth wrote this song and initially performed it in another band before assimilating it to the Fluid Ounces canon. I first remember hearing it sometime in 2005 as one of two songs Seth would sing while playing keys for Brent Baltzer’s alt-country outfit Miles of Clear June. I never paid much attention to it until the fall of 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when Seth almost apologized for its lyrics as they seem to have been specifically written about that terrible natural disaster, the government’s mishandling of the affair, and the subsequent exodus from the ruined city. The fact that the song is so prophetic speaks volumes of Seth’s imagination that he employs in his songs. I can vouch for hearing it before Katrina, which is hard to believe when you read the words:

“I heard that air raid siren blare
Before the storm blew through the air.
You can’t shoot it down.
You can’t fight it back.
You just hunker down
Till the danger’s past.

And I saw the fool sittin’ on the throne
Like some idiot boy Caesar
In an ancient Rome.
He is a coward,
puffin’ out his chest
Just struttin’ around
Till the danger’s past.

Here comes the rain,
Here comes the flood.
Guess we’ll build a great big boat
And put the pets on board.
Live under water
For the rest of our days
Drink like a fish, anyways.

We’ve got a home
Up in the sky sky sky.
It must be like the perfect drug.
Wake in the morning
feeling fine fine fine,
So happy to see
There’s no damage done.

Fire up your engines
Get behind the wheel.
Let that kick drum
Shake your rear view mirror.
Get all your good times
While they last.
Just shine it on
Till the danger’s past.”

This country two-step song got a wonderful make-over in 2006 when Fluid Ounces absorbed it after Seth left Miles of Clear June, mainly because Brian Rogers is a much better guitar player than Brent, and Tha B infused a new sense of life into the number with lots of lead guitar, making it one of my favorites in a Fluid Ounces show where it was not among my favorite Miles of Clear June songs.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Let Him Go (Hats Off to Harrison)

From Awkward Middle Phase: Seth Timbs' Home Demos, Volume One

One of Seth Timbs’ many songs that doubles as a eulogy of sorts. I remember hearing about the death of George Harrison in December, 2001—it’s one of the few times in my life that I’ve felt truly affected by the death of a celebrity. I was in my last week as a college student and working in a public high school. I heard the news on NPR as I rode in, and remembering that all schools are wired in with cable TV (which I never have at home, btw), I tried to see as much rare interview footage that they would milk out of it on every network as a way to deflect the undertow of emotion I was feeling.

This song was one of the few cuts from Awkward Middle Phase that I didn’t already have when it was released in 2006, but it quickly took me back to that deeply affecting moment when I realized that soul, that presence, that force, was not on Earth with us anymore. And even if George Harrison wasn’t really writing music anymore, and I wasn’t buying it if he was, a voice of understanding, love, and compassion had left us for good. We didn’t fully appreciate its presence since it had been singing “Here Comes the Sun” to us since our infancy, but as soon it was gone, it was a blow to us all.

And speaking for the generation of us born after the break-up of the Beatles, Seth finds the words to help us say good-bye, “Let him go. You know it couldn’t last forever.” And then he plays one of the longest guitar solos of any Fluid Ounces recording as if he is single-handedly playing George into the next life as we all tearfully realize that we have to move on in this life without him. It also should be noted that the solo is decidedly in the style of George Harrison, not a balls-to-the-wall McCartney solo like “Taxman,” or an over-the-top Clapton blues solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” but a melodic solo reminiscent of the decidedly Harrison “Octupus’s Garden” (minus a leslie cabinet) or maybe something off of All Things Must Pass.

I think it speaks to the power of the song that I have re-visited it every time death has visited me since then. Of all the eulogies of different types that Seth has written, I think this one is the strongest as it is the most uplifting.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Poet Tree

From Foreign Legion

It may have been this song that inspired this, but I’m going to share my ultra-super top secret plan with you, dear readers. I want to start a band that only plays songs by Nashville/Murfreesboro pop bands from the last ten years, only play them as a completely commercial country band. I want to see if we can attract major label attention from Music Row (preferably Sony Music, because there’s something about being signed to a company that has both Michael Jackson and Blu-Ray DVDs), before anyone can realize we’re actually playing the wonderful music that’s been under their noses for years. Who’s with me?

Nashville has achieved the title of “The Music City” for God-knows-how-long, and in this dense forest where it seems everyone is a songwriter or a guitar player, where even the cop who pulls you over has a demo tape, Seth Timbs dares to make the poignant observation, “If a tree rocks in the forest, and there’s no one there to hear it, it might be the coolest thing that never reaches your ears.”

At the release party for In the New Old-Fashioned Way, Seth said that the story behind the inspiration of this song was too convoluted to explain, and he would later in an open letter describe the song simply as “a song about a tree who’s into gangsta rap. And the hits keep comin’!!” But the song serves as a eulogy for so many great bands (and dare I say, for Fluid Ounces itself) that have tried to make a name for themselves in the “Music City,” which feels a lot more like “The Musicians’ Graveyard” as I’ve lived here almost ten years and seen the rise and fall of so many amazing acts. Especially since the Features have fallen off the major label circuit, I’m still waiting to see a band come out of Nashville and actually “make it.”

I think this song turns off some listeners because of its use of the blues boogie made cliché during the rock-a-billy era. The other turn-off for some listeners to this song is that the lyrics are almost too clever, the double entendres a little too numerous and over-the-top, starting with its pun for a title. For a while, I’ll admit, I thought that saying, “So put your branches in the air/ And wave them like you’re apathetic,” was going a little too far. I got over that.

This was the first completed track I heard from Foreign Legion since it was available for download some two years before the record came out, and I was all too excited to get it. Once the record was released, I was surprised to find this song as track two, since it is usually played in the latter half of the live sets. I still love the piano solo on the recording, which uses a delightfully dissonant ending, which I wish Seth would utilize sometime when playing this song live. He has over time developed a somewhat scripted piano solo for the song that’s quite different from the recording, as you’ll hear in the live video, and I’ve noticed that the more energetic shows I’ve seen are usually topped off with a more aggressive piano solo on this song.

Speaking of live performances, this song is one of the most famous and energetic set-closers, and ever since Sam Baker re-joined the band in 2001, it seems like it’s the goal to see just how fast they can play it and hold it together. (It has gotten faster than the video presented here, which is from July 7, 2001. Note that during the pause toward the end, you can hear Tom Foolery imitating the woodland noises that you hear on the record.) It has gotten faster and faster over time, just like “Selma Lou” and “Oh, Tatiana,” and I’m always amazed to see Tha B still shred that solo in perfect time despite the tempo. It blows the mind!

I’m also including a live mp3 from The Whole Shebang Record Release show from July 3, 2004, when Popular Genius served as Seth’s backing band. Their horn section even joined them for the end of the set, including this song. You can really hear how much fun Seth is having when they start playing along with him.

Download Live mp3

Purchase Fluid Ounces mp3s Directly from the Band!