“Bottled in Cork” – Ted Leo and the Pharmacists (Directed by Tom Scharpling)
I won’t recap what happens in the “Bottled in Cork” video because it’s an absolute joy to watch. I will strongly recommend that you watch the video at least once either above or on Funny or Die. If you need any more coaxing, know that the video features cameos from comedians Paul F. Tompkins, Julie Klausner, and John Hodgman (among others) and a scene-stealing performance from Patrick Stickles of Titus Andronicus in one of the audience shots.
If you’ve seen it, you should see it again. While writing this post, I watched the video for the first time in a while, and these are some of the things I noticed now that I hadn’t earlier (and I’m certain I’m still missing things).
- At the beginning and end of the video, Ted Leo wears the same denim jacket he wears in a lot of the promo pictures for 2003’s Hearts of Oak.
- I’m pretty sure The Daily Show’s Wyatt Cenac is next to John Hodgman in the audience. I also noticed WFMU personalities Terre T and AP Mike in the crowd (Tom Scharpling of The Best Show on WFMU fame wrote and directed the video, but more on the Best Show – Ted Leo connection later today)
- Bassist Marty “Violence” Key wears a Citizens Arrest shirt while taking a bow at the end. Citizens Arrest is one of Ted Leo’s pre-Pharmacists bands (who recently reunited, put out a digital EP, and played the Maryland Death Fest this past weekend).
As for the song, “Bottled in Cork” is the latest of Ted Leo’s travel songs (which most notably includes “The Ballad of the Sin Eater” from Hearts of Oak and, to a lesser degree, “La Costa Brava” on Living with the Living and “Counting Down the Hours” on Shake the Sheets). The other songs, particularly “…Sin Eater,” feel angry or frustrated while traveling, and this narrator experiences moments of frustration as well, but it’s outwardly directed toward failed peacekeeping missions and congressional pork. Here, the narrator’s life feels far more upbeat, particularly in the two lines repeated in the song. The first, “a little good will goes a mighty long way,” certainly fits its songwriter’s personality. The second, “tell the bartender / I think I’m falling in love,” becomes an ebullient refrain sung in a round the way an entire bar might sing along to something in celebration. It’s a joyous moment, and one worthy of a few extra bars before the song’s conclusion. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re singing along by the very end too – I certainly am!