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.


Anonymous said...

One of Seth's finest.

Soymilk Revolution said...

agreed. simply put, this is as fine a triumph of songwriting as anyone's. your description is perfect -- amazing how that magnificent line, "i've got bigger fish to die for," is the one to really resonate on that first listen.

the imagery in this song is unreal. "little parascopic heads / what you see is who you get," and "every morning eye conceals what the night before reveals," and just the profound yet indescribable image of that "great big empty." and the sounds! the sounds the band get on this one are just otherworldly. so, so good, top 5 seth for sure.

Purchase Fluid Ounces mp3s Directly from the Band!