The Fates Cry Foul

Release Date: 3/99, 3/08




studio version (1999)

live version (2004)



Every day there are decisions made

That I'm not a party to

Guess I lack the vision or ambition

To follow these things through

And if the essence of a second

Is that time is better spent

Then I might as well repent

And get it over with


So if someone said die

I don't think I'd be on cue

And henceforth chaos would ensue

But if someone said give up

I could do it right

But just for spite


I'd keep the towel

And let the fates cry foul

Iíd keep the towel

And let the fates cry foul


Undefined or meaningless

Mix well and divide by nil

I hope I'm not over the hill

For I will get vertigo

The first to go into overtime

I commit the perfect rhyme

No one ever listened when

I said it in 4/4 time

Said it in 4/4 time


The fates cry foul when you cut right angles from a beaten path

And it makes me laugh

'Cos they all say the shortest way is a crooked line

Though this is what they opine

I see 'em taking the freeway every time


Every day there are decisions made

That I'm not a party to

Guess I lack the vision or ambition

And can't follow these things

Screw it -- Iím doomed

Caught in the perfect crime

No one ever listened when

I said it in 4/4 time

Said it in 4/4 time


Adam - vocals, piano, clavinet, electric guitar
Steve Refling
- electric guitar
Robert Ramos - bass, vocals
Robbie Rist - vocals
Probyn Gregory - trumpet
Kurt Medlin - drums, percussion

Adam sez:

Singled out by "Bucketful of Brains" at the time as probably the best song I'd ever written (and who am I to argue), "The Fates Cry Foul" was actually written and originally recorded (with a slightly quirkier chorus chord progression) by AMB, a pre-Cockeyed Ghost band that included Rob Cassell and Robert Ramos. The conceit was to try to write a They Might Be Giants song without actually having (at the time) heard any of their albums. So this is what I thought TMBG sounded like in 1992 without actually hearing their music. Of course, when it came out I was accused of ripping off Ben Folds, but they weren't around when I wrote it. Wanting to rerecord this for Cockeyed Ghost was the original impetus for bringing Robert into the band, and his bass playing and vocals are a key part of the track, as is the "screw it I'm doomed" line, which is from Robert messing around in rehearsal.

What is the song about? Nothing much. To the extent it's about anything it's about my frustrations with communication and getting people to understand my music and my whole approach to life, which is to say screw it and just do what you want to do regardless of what anyone else thinks about it. Of course, writing obscure songs like this didn't help clear anything up. Which, I suppose, is the whole point of the song, come to think of it.

This is a turning point for the band and for me because this was the first song Cockeyed Ghost recorded that was built around a piano. Piano was my first instrument but when I'd started Cockeyed Ghost I'd deliberately gotten away from writing on it to force myself into more of a rock mindset, but by this time I was starting to want to stretch and show what else I could do. Plus, let's face it, piano playing impresses people. I don't know what it is, but it's like wearing glasses and people think you're smart. And I definitely wanted people to think of me and the band in a different way for this album.

Probyn Gregory's trumpet solo is insane genius...he wasn't even aware that he'd cut a track, if I remember correctly. It was sort of a between-takes kind of thing. The guitars have a unique sound because Steve and I cut them simultaneously, with me detuning my A and D strings so the guitars would ring against one another. The guitars sound big and fat, like ELO. Yay! There's also a '70s-era keyboard known as a clavinet (best known as the instrument on Stevie Wonder's "Superstition") subtly doubling the piano, a studio trick that I don't think has been used in about 30 years. (Think "This Time I'm In It For Love")

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