Ben Folds wrote the story of my life. Sounds a bit odd I know but the more I look into it, the more it makes sense to me. For those of you who don’t know who Ben folds is, here is a very short biography.
Ben Folds is an American singer/songwriter who has been around for ages. He started his career in a band called Ben Folds Five and released lots of albums. All of them, in my humble opinion, excellent. The songs are a mix of thoughtful ballads and thumping (funny) piano songs. It’s the kind of music that can fit whatever mood you are in and it speaks to me on many levels. I have grown up listening to Ben Folds and liked his music even before I knew it was his.
He was the kind of singer I wanted to be, wrote about the kind of things that I would have written about (if I was self aware enough when I was writing songs), was admired by the people I admired and above all else, he seemed to have a song for each part of my life. In fact, he still does. So, true to form, here is my list of Ben Folds songs that explain my life…
Underground: this is a song that is about the rock/metal/industrial/goth scene that I found myself in. It is a song about belonging. To contextualise this I must first admit to being a townie in my younger years.
Definition of a townie (according to me): someone who listens to a specific type of dance music, has a severe French crop hair cut, wears a MASSIVE gold hoop earring (men only, left ear), wears a bomber jacket (nylon, preferably with a record label logo on the back, must be green, blue or black), smokes benson and hedges (but only buys ten packs) and thinks they are ‘well wicked’. That was me. I was that bomber jacket wearing idiot.
The problem was that I did not fit in. For starters I was in a marching band (I still prefer to call it a drum corp but my wife tells me that doesn’t make it any cooler) and secondly, I never really liked the music. I would sneak off on my own and listen to prince. Then it happened. I got sat next to a metaller in class.
Definition of a metaller (according to me): someone who listens to heavy metal and rock eg korn, pantera etc.., long hair, band tshirts and a massive album collection.
I soon realised that this was what I wanted to be. I wanted the cool hair, the band tshirts and I wanted to jump around screaming lyrics. This is pretty much what the song is about. Going to a metal club and moshing makes you someone else, someone cool. At least I thought so.
Song for the dumped: This is a wonderful song with even better lyrics. It’s about a guy who gets dumped and is still owed money (and one of his tshirts) by his ex. This song spoke to me for a few reasons 1)i’d lent some money to my ex girlfriend and she had not paid me back. 2) she had some of my clothing. 3) she decided that she would only give me back the money on the day I was going out on a date with a new girl. Now it’s not important who dumped who (although I did dump her) but I found it a massive coincidence that I had been asking for my cash back for ages and she wants to see me the day I off on a date. It wasn’t loads of money, as a student it seemed like a huge sum though. Anyway, I feel I must say that I got the money back (not the clothes) and the girl I was going on a date with is now my wife. Altogether now one, two three ahhhhhhhh.
Sports and wine: This is me now. I love the idea that I am sophisticated enough to watch sports and drink good wine. In the UK there is a lager culture when watching football (soccer) and an ale culture when watching rugby (rugby). If you watch any other sports then any kind of drink is fair game. It had never really occurred to me that drinking wine and watching football would be odd, not until Ben Folds pointed it out. I suppose I always new it was a bit strange as I would only ever behave do that at home, I would never have gone to watch a match with the boys and ask for a nice, well rounded Merlot or a full bodied Cabernet. This last one is a recent addition playlist due to me getting old.
Just as an aside, the inspiration for this blog is a book by Nick Hornby (a subject I will cover more fully in another blog) and his book 39 songs. This book includes the Ben Folds song Smoke and appears to speak to Nick in the same way the above songs speak to me. They have also collaborated on a book/album which is well worth a purchase.
To sign off with I would like to leave you with a couple of Ben Folds covers. They dont mean a great deal to me other than the fact that I love them and would possibly have chosen to cover them myself.
The Cure – In between days
For someone who has never met me, I feel Ben knows me very well indeed. I suppose that’s the mark of a great songwriter. All the links I have added are from YouTube, the albums and discography is here Ben Folds and here Ben Folds Five
Who wrote the soundtrack to your life?