Skip to main content

12 More By Ben Folds

Sometimes an artist just needs 12 more songs to summarize their career. Case in point...
You should check out the original 12 By Ben Folds.

1. "Free Coffee" (from Way to Normal, 2008)
Ben Folds is far from ultra-famous, but he's prominent and successful enough to receive the perks of celebrity. Here he points out the irony of it, "When I was broke / I needed it more / but now that I'm rich / I get free coffee."

2. "You Don't Know Me" (from Way to Normal, 2008)
Ben Folds and Regina Spektor are such a perfect pairing. They need to make a whole album together.

3. "Brainwascht" (from Way to Normal, 2008)
This "diss track" was written in response to the Fleming & John song "Wrong," which was obliquely directed toward Ben in the aftermath of his divorce from his third wife (Fleming & John once opened for Ben Folds Five, and John Mark Painter had worked with Ben for several years). Ben gets some good jabs in about the hypocrisy of it all: "Isn't there something in the Bible about forgiveness and love  / And more importantly about throwing stones and what your house is made of."

4. "Bitch Went Nutz" (from Stems and Seeds, 2009)
For six of the songs on Way to Normal, Ben recorded completely different tunes with similar names as a sort of prank on those who leak albums early online. This is one of those. It's a hilarious story song about a conservative lawyer who brings his liberal girlfriend to the office Christmas party; though Ben takes the perspective of the boyfriend, it's pretty clear where his sympathies really lie

5. "From Above" (from Lonely Avenue, 2010)
I can't speak highly enough of Nick Hornby and Ben Folds's collaboration album Lonely Avenue. I think it helped greatly that the two men's lyrical sensibilities are not too far off (both like to tell stories, take on unexpected perspectives and topics, build characters through sharp details, and utilize wry humor), but working from Hornby's lyrics really seemed to bring out Fold's musical "a-game." This particular song, about soulmates that never meet, does pretty much all of that.

6. "Levi Johnston's Blues" (from Lonely Avenue, 2010)
It's hard to know what someone who didn't live through the 2008 election would make of this catchy number centered on Sarah Palin's almost son-in-law. Hornby smartly takes Levi's perspective to express his confusion and dismay at being suddenly thrown into a national spotlight. The chorus quotes Levi's own blockheaded MySpace page bio.

7. "Claire's Ninth" (from Lonely Avenue, 2010)
Heartbreaker about a girl trying to navigate the aftermath of her parents divorce on her birthday. The song actually switches back and forth between perspectives, with the chorus taking on the parents' voices.

8. Ben Folds Five: "Tell Me What I Did" (from The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective, 2011)
Ben Folds Five reunited in the early 2010s, and one of the songs they polished up was Robert Sledge's tune about an kid battling his way though school. The tune had been around awhile, with the band playing it a few times on their final tour before breaking up in 2000.

9. Ben Folds Five: "Hold That Thought" (from The Sound of the Life in the Mind, 2012)
A thoughtful ballad with those trademark BF5 harmonies. The lyrics are more impressionistic than Folds typically writes, with three seemingly disconnected little vignettes that read like parables.

10. Ben Folds Five: "Draw a Crowd" (from The Sound of the Life in the Mind, 2012)
There are times when the juvenile aspect of Folds's sense of humor is too much for me. And then there are times when it strikes just the right note, as it does on this wide-ranging tune about chasing fame, doing the best with what we have, and feeling disconnected from our own past.

11. "Capable of Anything" (from So There, 2015)
I love the way that this song comes at the title phrase from several different angles. There's the inspirational meaning, as in "you can do anything you put your mind to." There's the use of it as not taking any responsibility for your actions, i.e. "You don't seem to think you are capable of anything." And there's the nefarious interpretation of "Watch out, he's capable of anything!"

12. "2020" (digital single release, 2020)
The trauma of 2020 is still fresh, but it does help to laugh. And as time goes on I hope I'll appreciate this song more and more in a "can you believe we made it through that" sort of way?


Popular posts from this blog

Why Weezer is the Definitive Gen X Band

I’ve been thinkin’ ‘bout my g-g-g-generation.   One of the more fascinating side effects of the ever-intensifying culture wars is the emergence of generational mud-slinging battle between Baby Boomers and Millennials. Social media has played the role of both venue and promoter, and news outlets have done their best to cheer it on. As a member of the cohort that's situated between the two factions - Generation X - and thus removed from the fray, I've regarded this as an amusing sideshow in the never-ending circus of nauseating Internet discourse. The most illuminating part to me is how the conflict, and various reports about it, consistently omits the existence the generation between these two, and how very appropriate that is.   Now I'll start with the disclaimer that I'm well aware that no group of people is homogeneous. Generation X encompasses many different personality types, cultural experiences, economic realities, and a possible 15-year age difference (Gen Xers

20 From 2020

Every year since 2003 (coincidentally, the year I started this blog), I've made a compilation of some of my favorite songs of the year. I love the act of compiling and ordering, finding songs that speak to one another lyrically and that flow together seamlessly.  In order for the mixes to have longevity, I've typically avoided choosing too many songs that lyrically reflect the events of the year. That's gotten harder every year since 2016, and I was initially worried 2020 was going to be the tipping point. This year's mix might have looked a lot different if the presidential election had gone the other way. It would have certainly been more angry and despairing, and would have included such topical songs as Ben Folds's "2020," Ben Gibbard's "Proxima B," and Sloan's "Silence Trumps Lies." All good tunes, but I'm not sure how much I'll want to revisit them. Thankfully, instead, we have a mix with a variety of moods and cov

12 More by Jimmy Eat World

Sometimes an artist just needs 12  more  songs to summarize their career. Case in point... Sometimes your favorite band sneaks up on you. I'd been a Jimmy Eat World fan since the late 1990s, and have never missed one of their albums. But they didn't become my favorite band until a 2013 concert at First Avenue, where I found myself singing along with every single song by heart. It was then that I realized that for every phase of my adult life, Jimmy Eat World has been there to soundtrack it. You'll definitely want to check out the  12 by Jimmy Eat World  list to relive the first part of their career. 1. "Big Casino" (from Chase This Light , 2007) A highly caffeinated tune that contains one of my top ten all-time Jimmy Eat World lyrics: "Well there's lots of smart ideas in books I've never read / When the girls come talk to me I wish to hell I had." 2. "Always Be" (from  Chase This Light , 2007) Chase This Light came out when I was 30 yea