No really, listen to it. It’s important for this story.
Way back when, the band Fleet Foxes was new. I actually remember writing the post back in 2008 about how the band’s sound was inspired in part by old RPG music, a fact that’s not especially evident just listening to their songs but that makes sense once you hear about it. I remember buying the album. And I remember a co-worker asking if I wouldn’t mind burning her a copy.
Now, I could have told her that I wouldn’t be complicit in her music piracy. I could have told her that she’d failed to follow through on several work-related favors I’d asked of her and, as such, I just couldn’t be bothered. Or I could have just said, “Oh no, I plan on turning into a lava monster any moment now, so you’d better run on home or I will catch you with my lava arms. Run! Never return! Lava arms!” or something thereabouts. But I said yes, with all these thoughts of unfulfilled requests and molten lava arms swirling around in my head when I got home.
When I got around to burning the album, however, I inserted one extra track: “Septopus.” I’d done this before. In college, a roommate asked me to burn the new White Stripes CD for her and I inserted the Clarissa Explains It All theme song about two-thirds of the way through, and it infuriated her because she’d always forget to skip that track and would consequently get blasted by the opening “Na na na na na.” I think it killed whatever mood she was trying to establish. “Septopus,” in the context of this strummy, harmony-laden Fleet Foxes album, however, seemed less jarring, and I was just curious to see what would happen.
The short answer? Nothing.
A few days after I gave her the CD, I asked how she was enjoying it. She said she loved it. She called the album peaceful and beautiful. “Any of the tracks in particular stand out to you?” I asked. She said a few did, but that she’d have to match them with the titles. I left it at that. I didn’t want to give her any reason to be suspicious.
I suppose it’s possible that she eventually transferred those tracks to her iPod and is still driving around today, blissing out on those gentle Fleet Foxes chords and, unwittingly, also on those of Brendon Small as he sings about a seven-armed octopus who is always eating pies. But I have a best-case scenario in my head as well, and that is this coworker one day attending a Fleet Foxes concert where she’s standing in the front row and in between every song break she’s screaming “SEPTOPUS! SEPTOPUS! PLAY ‘SEPTOPUS’!” at the top of her lungs, and then turning to the concert-goer next to her and saying, “I’ve seen these guys all over the country now and they freaking never play ‘Septopus,’ not even for encores.”
Regardless of how she finds out, I’m just sad I won’t be there when someone eventually tells her “Fleet Foxes don’t have a song called ‘Septopus.’ Also, what’s a septopus?”
Here’s the full Home Movies episode, in case it’s been too long since you’ve seen the show. I queued it up to Fenton’s performance of the Septopus song, which I now realized has lyrics that the “Fleet Foxes” version doesn’t.
And would you look at this: Fenton in the Septopus costume appears on Home Movies’ season four DVD box set, and I just now noticed.