Ben Folds (Five)

So let’s clear our musical palate with something with a little more nuance. Ben Folds Five was a three piece piano rock band, formed in the 90’s, but broke up in 2000. Their big hit was Brick from their album Whatever and Ever Amen. The above song, “Evaporated”, is the final song of that album. There’s hints of enlightenment, but the desperation in the song is just so cutting.

This next song, “Fred Jones, pt. 2” from Ben Folds’ first solo album Rockin’ the Suburbs, has the same seriousness to it. The topic now, isn’t reflection, but a character he created named Fred Jones. In his first song about Fred Jones, “Cigarette”, Folds paints this picture of a guy, “worn out from caring for his often, screaming and crying wife”. In part 2, the hits just keep coming for Fred — after working at his job for 25 years, he gets laid off.

But not all of Ben Folds’ songs are melancholy. His more upbeat songs are pretty damn catchy. Whenever he performs the song “Army”, he usually has the audience sing the horn part like in the following video.

The best part about Ben Folds is his talent for improv. This final video captures an improvisation on some guy shouting in the audience. The funny thing is that this totally spontaneous song became the song “Hiroshima” in his last album, Way to Normal.

His next album, Lonely Avenue, is coming out this Tuesday, the 28th. It’s a collaboration with author Nick Hornby. Going through YouTube and collecting these songs has me pretty pumped for this Tuesday. I can’t wait to hear it.

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