Missed Music

Music you didn’t know you needed…until now.

The Friday mix: The genius of Ben Folds

Occasionally, for the Friday mix, I like to put together a mix of a single artist. You might know the artist in question (you probably do today) but you may not have listened to the catalog as deeply as I have. Today, I want to turn you on to whiz man Ben Folds.

I first saw Ben Folds in 1995 when he was touring with Ben Folds Five on their self-titled debut. The show was fun and outrageous. The bass player did a hilarious Michael McDonald imitation. Folds played the piano with his feet. It was a blast.

Ben Folds Five broke up, but Ben himself has continued to write catchy, deep, and edgy songs. He’s a great talent, and if you haven’t kept up with him, you should. Check out some of my favorites.

  1. Underground – My wife actually turned me onto Ben Folds when she heard this song on a local station (Denver has a GREAT radio scene, unlike Cleveland) when we were living in Denver and went out and bought the disc.
  2. Philosophy – This is also off the debut and if you somehow didn’t buy this album, go get it right away. He plays the piano with so much energy on this song. Love it.
  3. Jackson Cannery – I like the lyrics to this song. It opens with “Stop the bus!” and contains gems like “The seconds pass slowly, but the years go flying by.” This album is loaded with great tracks. There’s not a loser on it, but these 3 are my favorites.
  4. Fair – As good as the first album was, the second one, “Whatever and Ever Amen,” might be better. I’m honestly not sure. I know I absolutely love this song.
  5. Song for the Dumped – OK, so this is definitely the funniest song he ever wrote. “I wish I hadn’t bought you dinner right before you dumped me on your front porch. Give me my money back. Give me my money back, you bitch. I want my money back. And don’t forget to give me back my black t-shirt.”
  6. Selfless, Calm, and Composed – This kind of naked honesty is so engaging, like the stuff John Lennon wrote about his own life. I believe it’s about wanting more emotion from an ex-girlfriend. “Come on, baby, and throw me a right to the chin. Don’t just stare like you never cared, I know you did.” Wow.
  7. Kate – What a fun song about an infatuation. After hearing the song, I want to meet her too.
  8. Battle of Who Could Care Less – This is my favorite song on the album. The video is fun, too. Check it out.
  9. Bastard – This song contains the line, “The whiz man will never fit you like the whiz kid did.”  I’m not sure which is better, the catchy hook or the deep and clever lyrics.
  10. You to Thank – A more heartrending song with happier carnival piano you will never hear.
  11. Jesusland – Sorry. The only link to a non-live version of this song has a 15-second commercial first. I feel Folds on this one. I often feel I’m living in Jesusland.
  12. Landed – Beautiful song. This is my favorite track off “Songs for Silverman.”
  13. Late – Ben Folds wrote this song for Elliot Smith after he committed suicide. Sad sad.
  14. All U Can Eat – Look to your left. Look to your right. No studio versions of this on YouTube, so I linked to a live performance of this song because you should hear the whole thing.
  15. Rent A Cop – This is such a great piano riff. That’s why he makes the big bucks.

I could continue recommending songs. I haven’t come close to recommending all the songs I have by him on my iPod, but I’m gong to stop. Ben Folds is equal parts talent and honesty. If you aren’t familiar with his work, here you go. If you are a little familiar, dig deeper. You won’t be disappointed. Enjoy down the hill with a beer and have a good weekend.

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February 19, 2010 - Posted by | Alternative, Popular, Rock

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