Song of the Day #865: ‘Jackson Cannery’ – Ben Folds Five

I’m trying something new on the blog over the next couple of weeks. I’ve done a lot of theme weeks tied to both topics and artists, but I’ve never dedicated a series of posts to a single album.

Until today!

My next 11 weekday posts (skipping weekends for the usual Elvis Costello posts) will cover Ben Folds Five’s self-titled debut album. I will skip the one song that has previously enjoyed the Song of the Day honor but present the rest of the tracks in order.

Why this album? Well, I have a short list of records I consider candidates for the designation of “my favorite album ever.” Titles by Fiona Apple, Rufus Wainwright and Paul Simon have all jockeyed for the title. But this little indie gem of piano-bass-drums nerd-rock might just be the one disc to rule them all.

As I’ll demonstrate over the next two weeks (more appropriately, as Ben Folds Five will demonstrate over the next two weeks), this album is smart and funny, tender and tough. It features some of the finest performances on its three instruments I’ve ever heard on record. And it all sounds as if it was thrown together live over a few hours (which it probably was), in the best possible way.

Kicking things off is the rollicking ‘Jackson Cannery,’ about a man who’s a slave to the system. I love this phrase in the chorus: “Big brother’s got the keys, and I got Jackson Cannery.” That sums up the blue-collar lament beautifully in less room than a tweet.

Stop the bus
I wanna be lonely
When seconds pass slowly
And years go flying by
You gotta stop the bus
And get off here
And I’m leaving this factory

And all she wants
Is food on the table
And I won’t be able
To bring it home
And all I want, come on
‘Cause all I need , yeah is free
‘Cause I’m a factory

Did Mother Nature tell you
Boy you come and go as you please
That’s what she said to me
But big brother got the keys
And I got Jackson Cannery

Millionaires and mill rats live side by side here
Messed up my brother’s mind
Who’s far from earth
And tell me what’s he worth? (Nothing!)
The same as you, the same as me
In this factory

Did Mother Nature tell you
Boy you come and go as you please
That’s what she said to me
But big brother got the keys
And I got Jackson Cannery

It’s 4 in the morning
Mother don’t know
That I’m going far away
She’s whispering to the moon
I hope you don’t, join you soon

Baby boss
Climbs up on his soapbox
Great Caesar’s ghost
Knows what’s best for me
Stop the bus

Did Mother Nature tell you
Boy you come and go as you please
That’s what she said to me
But big brother got the keys
And I got Jackson Cannery

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #865: ‘Jackson Cannery’ – Ben Folds Five

  1. Dana says:

    Well, as I count this album amongst my favorites as well, I can’t say I am displeased with the theme.

    Few opening chords have so quickly reeled me into a a great new musical experience as the ones found on today’s SOTD. It was all at once familiar yet unique, comfortable yet raw, evolutionary (from the likes of Joel and John) yet revolutionary.

    I’m looking forward to rediscovering the debut album that launched one of my favorite artists.

  2. Amy says:

    I’m thrilled with this “theme,” as I, too, look forward to revisiting all the great songs on this album. I remember the first time I heard this song thinking, “Wow! A musician has made the piano as sexy as the guitar.” In retrospect, that seems rather silly, but at the time it made perfect sense to me. While I had always loved Billy Joel and Elton John, and appreciate the way they could rock the piano, I had never heard the instrument played like this on a commerical record.

    So, yeah, I just love the song!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s