Saturday, September 12, 2015

Ten from Fountains of Wayne: "Hat and Feet"


"Hat and Feet" / Fountains of Wayne

What?  The only Fountains of Wayne song you know is their one pop hit, "Stacy's Mom"?  Now that's a shame.  Permit me to widen your horizons, with not one but ten FOW tracks that prove their genius...   

From Utopia Parkway (1999)
It's the old, old story here -- Boy meets Girl, Boy gets Girl, Girl breaks up with Boy, Boy licks his wounds and feels sorry for himself.  Cue up Gene Pitney or Bobby Vinton, bewailing their lonesome fate. 
But, being Fountains of Wayne, these guys have to give it their own effervescent twist.
There's no way this is going to be a self-pity party -- not with that perky beat, that bouncy melody. When this track dials up on my iPod while I'm out walking, I can hardly keep myself from strutting.
Whatever pain and heartbreak our singer is feeling, he's already holding at arm's length, ruefully describing himself:  "I'm just a hat and feet / That's all that left of me / A spot on the sidewalk / A mark on the street / I'm just a hat and feet."
Sure, he's been "gutted," to use the Brit slang term. But that image -- the collapsed hat (I picture a straw boater) and feet (picture white bucks) -- is so delightfully cartoony, we can't feel too sorry for him. And neither can he, now.  
Cartoony?  It's better than that; it's a classic scene out of silent comedies. something by Buster Keaton or Harold Lloyd.  In the second verse, her rejection is "A falling piano / From out of a window." And in the bridge, he laments, "I'm just a sitting duck / That ran out of luck / I'm the unhappy guy / That didn't look up high / I started running when I saw it coming / It got faster and louder till I took a powder. . . . "  KaBLAM!!  When he stands up, there'll be stars circling around his head and a criss-cross of bandaids appearing magically on his forehead.
But you know what?  Somehow I think he's going to be just fine.

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