Thursday, December 6, 2007

Mountain Man from Mole Hill

From Awkward Middle Phase: Seth Timbs' Home Demos, Volume One

Written on guitar and first performed at the first of two of the band’s only piano-less sets, this one in the summer of 2000, “Mountain Man from Mole Hill” essentially takes its premise from the Beatles’ “The Fool on the Hill” and runs with it, fleshing out the ideas into a more fully realized vision of what Paul McCartney was trying to say and do.

The song begins with a marching drum intro and then ascends into a high place in which the mountain man can see the world below, comparing the people in the world below to ants as they busy themselves with making mountains out of mole hills. The song has no true chorus to speak of, using the spoken title as the refrain to punctuate each verse at the beginning and the end. Its bridges then serve as the two haiku within the song that almost show us what sets the mountain man apart from the ants as the first one says,
“And the ladder to heaven
Climbs only halfway,
But it’s over the weather
And the sun shines all day,”

while the second one says,

“And the sooner or later
Gets closer each day.
But it’s just human nature
To sit and watch and wait.”

The second of these then goes into a blistering Doug Payne solo as the song then leads back into a third verse amid some very Brian Wilson-esque backing vocals. It then cools down as it brings us down from its higher place and coasts us back into a station to go forth and work among the ants, hopefully to fight against their industry and ability to turn mountains into mole hills, whatever they may be.


Soymilk Revolution said...

those brian wilson backing vocals are what make this song for me. so good, so smooth.

Anonymous said...

I think we played this one a few times throughout 99-2000, during the end of tenure in the band. I remember it being particularly hard to "pull off" live, because of the background vocals and odd cadence. Still a great tune though!

Juan Horsetown said...

It was debuted in 2000, just before Justin left the band (like, his second to last show), and it was played often on through when Sam Baker was in the band. Oddly, I don't have a video of it, though all of my shows are from that time. I only have a couple of live mp3s for it, and they were pretty low quality.

I thought it worked best when either Elliott or Trev would help out Doug on the backing vocals to fatten them out (no offense, J, you rock).

magnum opus said...

i never really thought about a "fool on the hill" connection with this song.

the mountian man is "god" (with a little 'g')...the kind which is invented by humans to fullfil their own purposes.

in this song the manufactured god is made self-aware and begins to have feelings about his
non-god-like godliness.

Rex L. Camino said...

Fluid Ounces did a piano-less set at the release of the Elliot Smith tribute CD.

Juan Horsetown said...


I was hoping you would grace this blog with your unique and well-informed perspective!

Thanks for pointing that out; I'll fix it.

Kerriffic said...

i was there.....good show....

Purchase Fluid Ounces mp3s Directly from the Band!