From In the New Old-Fashioned Way
“Drought” is a gospel song, both in style and content. When I hear it played live, I imagine holy rollers jumping around with arms raised while tearfully shouting for glory in tongues as the band plays those soulful sounds. All the rest of us should stand up and clap. Seth Timbs then ascends to his pulpit behind the keys and delivers his sermon. His text is all the movies and TV we’ve seen too much of anyway, and his message is to put away thoughts on love and money in order to survive the metaphorical storms of life. Given the rest of the album in which this song lies near the center, our preacher stands before us as a repentant sinner rather than a hypocrite, pouring out his all on his black-and-white altar of 88 keys. Seth brings us hope that we can rise above the prevailing philosophies of our day, be it through the media (“TV talk”), kitschy belief systems that are constantly going in and out of style in America’s tireless search for meaning (“casoulastry” is a word Seth made up to illustrate this), or so many of the other pitfalls that have eaten away the soul of our generation referenced through the song.
When I first started listening to this song in 2000, I was obsessed with James Joyce’s collection of short stories, Dubliners, which frequently uses the old English term “draught,” which means to take an alcoholic drink from a keg. I used my own interpretation to link the two together, as in, “What this drowning man needs is a drink.” (That was further validated when I found out the mysterious opening sound of the song is Ben Morton opening a beer.) Unfortunately, this led to more lyrical changes to run through my mind. People who talk to me frequently will still hear me say every once in a while, “What this tired man needs is a nap,” or something to that effect.
This song has amazing versatility in Fluid Ounces sets, equally effective as opener, closer, or anywhere in between. It was very effective when it would be paired with “Poet Tree,” with only a two-count drum beat to launch into “Drought.” The best innovation to it was when the final chorus would launch into “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love,” previously covered by oh so many people (Who initially recorded it? Whose version is the definitive one? I have no idea), which follows the exact same chord progression as “Drought.” That chorus, before playing the song’s closing riff, says, “I need you you you,” which leads us to believe that our contrite singer will be back in front of us again someday with another tearful apology, but that’s OK--we’re in it for the ride with him, accepting him for who he is and loving the music all the way back to hell.
The live mp3, which will be this blog's last, will be up soon...