From Foreign Legion
I am expecting as much dissension to this post as when I said that “Daddy Scruff” should have been left off of Big Notebook, but here goes—I love love love “The Last Thing.” I think it is the point when most people lose their taste for Foreign Legion, but to me, being a bigger fan of that record than most other Fl. Oz. fans, every song before it on the record leads us to it, with each one pulling us closer on the emotional trip. The song itself is about hitting bottom. Of all the break-up songs, of all the heartache we’ve heard about, “The Last Thing” shows us what life is like at its worst after a break-up: you can’t work, you can’t think about anything else, you can only drink.
This song’s closest companion, in feel and subject matter at least, is INOFW’s “Bigger Than the Both of Us,” and in many ways, the songs are almost inter-changeable. “The Last Thing” is set apart from its predecessor because of its epic bridge that pulls open the shades and lets a ray of beaming sunlight in the form of hope juxtapose against the dreary tone of the record up to this point. “Keep up your spirits, boy / There’s too many fish in the sea!” The speaker knows that there is a brighter future ahead of him; he knows it and hopes for it. But in this stage of grieving, this “last thing,” he must dwell on it and truly hit bottom. He can’t help the way he feels, and as the song seamlessly returns to its sad feel, he acknowledges that time will heal the wounds…eventually.
This song’s other companion piece would be “Smitten,” which the band would play directly after “The Last Thing” on more than one occasion, with Seth Timbs saying, “Here’s a song about a radically different subject.” The two were rightfully placed together on Foreign Legion, and in the over-arching story of the record, serve as its turning point, the elbow of the record if you will. The protagonist hits bottom in the one, and his glimmer of hope from before remains and pays off with his elation in “Smitten.”
I think I have some fond memories of this song that help to aid in my love for it. First off, all of the songs of Foreign Legion hold a place in my heart as they were what were being performed when I first began seeing the band. It was the record I hadn’t heard yet since it wasn’t even finished, and so I often went to the shows to experience a different set of songs (and a different line-up) from what I was hearing at home on Big Notebook and INOFW. The last night that Matt Mahaffey lived in Murfreesboro, Fluid Ounces played, and during the bridge of this song, he ran in from the Boro’s back entrance and danced around the room a la the Scarecrow in the “If I Only Had a Brain” sequence before rushing out, all during the bridge. I remember a soothing feeling of hearing this song on the same day I’d just broken up with my girlfriend that same year, which turned out to be the song’s last performance. The band did not play it again, notably at Justin Meyer’s final show, which I thought would have been a shoe-in for a dedication to him before he left town.