Song of the Day #873: ‘Sports & Wine’ – Ben Folds Five

Following ‘Underground,’ Ben Folds Five moves to what I consider the most underrated one-two punch on an album full of excellent songs.

First up is ‘Sports and Wine,’ a song I rarely see mentioned on lists of the bands’ finest achievements but one I rank up there with their best work. Perhaps more than any other song on this album, ‘Sports & Wine’ showcases how insanely good each of these guys is on his instrument.

Robert Sledge’s bass line can only be described as sick (and why is it, exactly, that “sick bass line” has become such a standard compliment? You don’t often hear about sick guitar riffs or sick drum solos, but great bass work is always sick). Darren Jesse holds the frantic pace together with some of his tightest drumming on record. And Folds, peerless on the piano as a rock instrument, is at his frenzied best.

I particularly love the breakdown in the middle of the song (the 1:12 mark in this clip) and the orgasmic final 30 seconds. I was lucky enough to see the band twice before their breakup and was amazed to see them pull this song off live without missing a beat.

Lyrically, ‘Sports & Wine’ is a pretty straight-forward take-down of a certain kind of phony metrosexual man, the kind of guy who inspires eye-rolling by the cool girls and attracts the rest like a magnet.

Destiny was calling
Monday afternoon
Wednesday you’ll be crawling
And you’ll pray to be there soon
With sports and wine
Yeah yeah
Sports and wine, no no

Some men never grew up
Fortunate like you
Some men never found out
What it takes to be a dude
That’s sports and wine, yeah yeah.
Sports and wine, no no

The girls don’t understand it
What you think is art
My, oh my, we’re all impressed
How sensitive you are
Everybody’s talking about you now
You know it’s true
Because it always has been
Sports and wine for you

So you asked me how I think I know
Just what makes you tick
I know what I know, you know
I know you make me sick
Sports and wine
Sports and wine

The girls don’t understand it,
Anything you say
I don’t understand it either
Guess that makes me gay.
Everybody’s talking about you now
You know it’s true
No, no, no, no, no…

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One thought on “Song of the Day #873: ‘Sports & Wine’ – Ben Folds Five

  1. Dana says:

    I was unaware of the descriptive “sick” bass epidemic.. Anyway, while I’m not sure I hold this song in quite as high regard as you do, it is nevertheless another great one from this great debut album.

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