Thursday, December 27, 2007

Invincible Boy

From Instant Nostalgia and the Japanese release of Foreign Legion

This song started out as one among the throngs of Seth Timbs demos, but among the few that has actually surfaced. I believe I heard it said that Mac Burrus had requested to Seth that he write a song called, “Invincible Boy,” and Seth was obliged to do it, penning words about the youngsters of today and their detachment from reality as a result of being so engulfed in technology and media (for a similar theme, see “Twenty-First Digital Boy” by Bad Religion*). A demo was made, and the song was performed live once in 2000 or early 2001 in one of Seth’s acoustic appearances (which I wish I could access so I could post it). The demo was released on the Japanese version of Foreign Legion, and very few of us in this country got to hear it.

It features one of those melodies, the “make way” part (perhaps a reference to the H.M.S. Makeway, the name given to Fluid Ounces’ touring vehicles), that you’ll swear you’ve heard some at point before (the Beatles hold the copyright on most of those melodies, but occasionally other people stumble across another one). Like the vocal melody of “How to Be Happy,” it just makes so much sense that those sounds should come together!

Anyway, this song lay fallow for years before it did something that no other Fluid Ounces song has ever really done. It evolved. When the final live band began playing together, they were mainly showcasing tunes to promote The Whole Shebang. Interludes in the set in which Seth played guitar have come and gone as long as Fluid Ounces has been around, but with hits like “Selma Lou” and “Fool Around” being so guitar heavy, it was necessary to include a guitar set in every Fluid Ounces show for 2004 and 2005. They began to include other guitar songs, and around the time Brian Rogers vetoed playing “Lazy Bones” live anymore, the band pulled this one out of its collective hat.

The new live version was heavier than the original demo. Kyle Walsh used a shaker with one hand and played the kit with the other, adding backing vocals to emphasize the word “way” every time it appears in the song. With two electric guitars, a jamming solo was added to the end of the song, during which Tha B rocks out while Seth sets down his guitar, only to sit down at the piano and finish up with a solo to make a smooth transition to the rest of the set (the live version I’m including here is from May 27, 2005—not my best live recording of the song, but the only version I have of this particular way of performing it). Sometimes, with almost no pause, Seth would immediately count off and then launch the band into “Paperweight Machine,” which made for an exciting musical moment for those of us in the audience.

Recording began sometime in the summer of 2005 with drums and bass, and then it continued to evolve to what I think is its quintessential version for Instant Nostalgia once Seth and Brian re-vamped it in early 2006. A drum machine was used, and the solo became a freak-out jam between an electric piano and an electric guitar, filled with too many cool parts to mention.

Download Live mp3

*The song I mentioned above is the only Bad Religion song I’ve ever heard.


Soymilk Revolution said...

"filled with too many cool parts to mention."

indeed. when i first heard the nostalgia version, i freaked. it was so cool, so funky, so experimental -- all good things, just not what i had come to expect from the world's best piano pop outfit.

in fact, that can be said for a lot of instant nostalgia. "oh, tatiana," "grown man crying," "instant nostalgia"...even "come on out," with its piano-heavy riff, feels like the band is going out of its tree. it's a fantastic record and for a long time i thought "invincible boy" was the best song on it -- it might still be. but the closing lines to "till the danger's past" is without question my favorite moment on the album. beautiful.

magnum opus said...

well, i have to say this song is not so much about the youth of today's detachment from reality due to media engulfment as it is about school shootings and the lamentation of one parent i once heard on tv saying that we should make bullet proof children these days.

in this song the "invincible boy" mightbe that bullet proof kid or he might be the kid shooting the bullets....who knows. much like Vegetable Kingdom where we don;t know if the farmer has sadly lost his wife to suicide or if he himself has killed her.

Soymilk Revolution said...

i like the ambiguity. here and in "vegetable kingdom."

for me, this song was something of a respite during that dreaded college search. "although the world is conspiring / although the strain is too much / although his fate is decided / he'll be fine," or something to that effect -- was a nice way of putting that awful time into a little better perspective.

never thought of it being about school shootings, but that sure gives the song an even more compelling context. thanks seth!

Kerriffic said...

i dig Tha B's shredding solo at the end!

Purchase Fluid Ounces mp3s Directly from the Band!