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


Soymilk Revolution said...

love this live version! but the coda really is essential to the recorded version/ITNOFW as a whole. one of the creepiest things i've ever heard, when that nicked radio line comes in.

tha b said...

yeah, that was a magical night (and 2-week session for that matter). Sometimes it pays off to just 'roll tape'. You never know what you might capture.

Kerriffic said...

one of the coolest performances of this song was when Tha B and Seth played this song acoustically at BLuesboro back in january of 2005.

can you think of a bette way to end the record? not really. its by far the most different of all the songs on New Old Fashioned Way, but manages to tie everything together. is there a theme? maybe, this songs gives off the impression of a theme. the boatcaptain is given an almost cartoon like character treament, a mad scientist if you will. it seems all of Seth's characters have this sense of "unusual" about them.

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