Monday, August 20, 2007

Show on the Road

From Foreign Legion

Looking over the enormous canon of both released and un-released Fluid Ounces songs, there are so many that leap out and say, “Hello there!” With only five full-length records, one B-side record, and one EP, they all seem to say hello over and over again with so many songs on each that could easily be the intro track to its own record. I decided that the journey I’m embarking on of writing about each and every Fluid Ounces song is best represented by “Show on the Road,” though.

Probably written in ’98 or ’99, but most certainly before the release of In the New Old Fashioned Way, this song is about the band at its most optimistic point in its career, building a local following and at the same time turning toward the possibility of national success with a tour including Chicago and South by Southwest during the spring of 1999. The band was getting its first real radio play with “Vegetable Kingdom,” and everything seemed to be looking up.

Starting with a strong guitar riff, “Show on the Road” quickly warms up to a good temperature of rock. I’ll admit that it’s not my favorite Fluid Ounces song: I usually don’t like songs in which singer/song-writer Seth Timbs sings falsetto, and I never really liked the melody of the chorus. It’s an extremely rare moment in the Fluid Ounces canon when the rhythm of the lyrics, the melody, and the musical structure don’t exemplify a perfect cohesiveness, as if any other note anywhere in the chord would bring it all down like a deck of cards. “Show on the Road” has a few of those moments when it doesn’t seem to work so perfectly.

But what this song does better than any other Fluid Ounces song is to capture the spirit of so many young men setting out to make a name for themselves by playing music in local scenes across America. (Witness Seth’s more typical view on the subject in “Poet Tree,” the song immediately after “Show on the Road” on Foreign Legion.) “Are we covering ground, or is the world moving under us?...Are we the kings of the Earth/ Or will the world make fools of us?” are lines that hint at the truth for all the musical acts I’ve seen venture beyond the Tennessee state lines: that the feeling of having conquered Nashville or being really good performers or songwriters determines little in the long and rocky road to fame or even recognition, that it seems to be little more than a crap shoot as to whether a capable act can actually “make it.”

I’ll also add that the classical-esque piano lick just after Seth sings, “getting smaller in the distance,” was the first thing I found to celebrate when I first listened to the record (and it was only three minutes into it).

I felt this song was the best to inaugurate what I hope will be a regular feature (I already have the next 19 or so entries well under way) to incite discussion about my favorite band of all time. The video below was recorded at the Boro on October 27, 2000, and is followed by the band giving a brief commercial for Miller High Life beer. Sorry that the video quality is so low: I PROMISE I have much better goodies to come (this was the only video of this song I had).
And so, fans and other interested parties, “Let’s get this show on the road!”

And with much better quality, here's a better live version from '99!


Soymilk Revolution said...

i would certainly venture to say this is the weakest entry in fluid ounces' collection of "record openers." kicking an album off with a chorus that shouts "let's get this show on the road!" is just too obvious and not as clever as one would expect timbs to be. the songwriting is relatively bland too, although i will say that the bands are in fine form on the bridges. timbs always seems to save some of his best material for the part of the song most songwriters gloss right over, and this tune's no exception.

Soymilk Revolution said...

*the band IS in fine form.

grammar, blahhh.

Tom Foolery said...

It's not my favorite Fl. Oz. song, but I think it's a great way for you to kick off your own venture of exploring the full Ounces catalog.

I've always appreciated the optimism of the song. I think it definitely captures that excited feeling that I get when I get into a fully packed car with the whole world before me.

On a personal note, this song reminds me of a trip that Juan and I took shortly after getting a pre-release copy of Foreign Legion from Trev. We listened to the whole CD several times between Tennessee and Myrtle Beach. This song felt particularly appropriate as we took our own show on the road.

Kerriffic said...

i like this song. to me its the perfect pening for the record. i think it sort of establishes where the album is going and what the general theme of the record will or can convey. the tempo changes are pretty typical going from upbeat to half-tim and slow. the ending chord sounds a bit beatle-esque ala "day in the life" possibly day in the life of a working band?

tha b said...

this song is why i left the band...

just kidding... it was fun to play live though... I think I have a version from Grand Rapids... I'll take a look.

tha b said...

as promised...

live in Grand Rapids... I don't remember the date, but it was part of our 'Ounces Ahoy!' MidWestern tour of 1999.

Juan Horsetown said...

You are still the man, B.

Two things:
1. Is that Seth's guitar you used after you broke a string?

2. I am continuing to question Ben Morton's choice of basses.

tha b said...

1.) yes... it was my backup guitar... Doug Payne used the same guitar most of the time. Epiphone Sheraton II. I broke a string on this one too at the end of the set on Go Lucky... you may not see that one on here.. not too good on my part with the broken string and all.

2.) one is too small and the other is too big... at least the one he wears now shoots bullets...

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