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.