From The Vegetable Kingdom EP
This is perhaps the most autumnal of all Fluid Ounces songs, referring to falling leaves and dying insects, but strangely not as autumnal as the shades of gray experienced in “Kept Alive by Science.” This image is important in that links the nostalgia of the song to death and dying as the speaker is sitting beside himself, a clever twist of words for a title and chorus—juxtaposing being “by oneself” as in alone, with being “beside oneself,” as in a state of confusion.
We are then swirled into a whirl of memories and senses as our speaker says, “And the last time I was here/ It must have been about this same time last year,” perhaps referring to a physical place or the same situation in a love relationship, probably in the wake of a break-up. He is quick to point out the shortcomings of this past relationship, referring to himself as “hen-pecked” among other things, but he still finds himself alone, again, trying his hardest to “smooth things over.” In all the metaphorical references, we get a sense of a cyclical aspect to the way he feels, going back to being a “classroom misfit,” kissing on field trips. The memories and details are blurred in the passage of time, but the cycle and the feelings are all too relevant and pertinent as he finds himself in this same place yet again.
Seth Timbs throws a wink at us in this song, saying, “Stream of consciousness / Heads are talking to themselves,” in perhaps the most stream-of-consciousness song in the Fluid Ounces catalog.
The song closes with a pretty big solo, especially live, with guitar and piano playing complementary leads together at the same time in a jazzy outro, like you see in this video from July 7, 2001 at the Boro.