From Big Notebook for Easy Piano and Remember Cassettes, Vol. 1
To the casual listener, the same one who can’t get past comparing Seth Timbs to Osama Ben Folds, the five Fluid Ounces records might sound somewhat alike. For those of us who have spent some time with these records, each one begins to stand out and seem so much different from the rest. As bouncy and happy-sounding as Big Notebook is, it’s like there’s a dark cloud looming over all the songs that only settles in for the darker-sounding tunes.
“Poor Man” is the last song on the record beyond its secret track, but it is the true ending as it talks of leaving one place for another place as the dark cloud looming over the whole record clears as we approach a place where things are, “happy ever after,” and, more importantly, it is the start of what would become the toe-tapping sound that was made into an art form for In the New Old-Fashioned Way, the types of songs that have become the bread and butter of the band’s catalog. Musically, this song is the same chord progression as “Have Fun” in the key of D instead of E-flat, and it swings in a very similar fashion to “Drought.” It features Ben Morton wailing away on bass through the verses, Seth Timbs beautifully accenting the words, “Everything is stereo,” with a beautiful piano run up the keyboard, and Brian Rogers giving us a solo that jumps out from the arrangement that could not work anywhere else or any other way than exactly as we hear it there.
As it breaks loose, it pulls several wonderful pieces of imagery with it: “burning all the files and the videos,” destroying things as almost a creative force; empires rising and falling; contrasting monotone and stereo as well as black-and-white with color; and one last autumnal reference on the record when Seth sings, “Now the summer air is turning cold.” The lead-in to the solo carries my favorite image to the song,
“All jaded hearts won’t find their peace,
While my true love presides as queen
Over lands where a peasant can’t afford to sleep
So a poor man I will…”
The song ends with a cacophony of shouting snippets of lines from throughout the song before one little piano coda and a single person clapping.
The video is from October 10, 1997, from Main Street.