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

8 comments:

tha b said...

The story of that recorded solo goes as such... Seth tried several times to get something he liked to no avail... finally on the last try for the night, he gets frustrated and bangs the crap out of the piano (hence the dissonance). We all agreed (except Seth) that was 'the one'... he finally came around to it... and we made it so...

this song is soooo much fun to play which is why it has become our new Record Stak. (I just had to mention RS... it's required)

Soymilk Revolution said...

"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?"

jakob dorof on bass and backing vocals, reporting for duty.

Juan Horsetown said...

Welcome. You'll need
--one cowboy hat, black or white
--one large belt buckle
--tight jeans
--an array of flannel shirts
--a hick accent (those are hard to come by in PA and at Yale, I hear)
--boots (spurs optional)
--$300 personal burial money

Kerriffic said...

i have always loved this song and i think its one of the few that always gets played since I have seen the band! I enjoy the old-time-rock and roll-blues-boogie-ness of the song. not many people can pull it off and make it sound good. and no lyric is ever too clever.

Tom Foolery said...

I try my best not to make bird noises during the pause when the band plays this one live, but it's a hard habit to break. One time, Seth even called me on it.

I'll probably have my Fl Oz Fan Club membership revoked for asking this question, but I'll ask anyway: Was this the song that the band used to play and then lead directly into "Drought," or was that a different song? I always thought that was really fun the way they'd just play from one song into another. Not many bands seem to do that anymore.

Juan Horsetown said...

It was this one. I only have the one recording of them playing that way, so I don't know if it was done that way for long. It had to have been carefully practiced to end Poet Tree and do two drum beats before plowing into Drought, so I assume they did it a few times.

tha b said...

well we did all live together long ago and we had a cowbell click track going at all times... even when we weren't practicing... just as white noise... even while we slept... just kidding...

anyway, we did that before i left the band and likely afterwards if you have a recording that you did yourself...

Juan Horsetown said...

The recording to which we were referring was the lone audio recording I have pre-Doug-Payne, which is from May of 1999.

Purchase Fluid Ounces mp3s Directly from the Band!