Song of the Day #875: ‘Video’ – Ben Folds Five

Here’s where I have to break my pattern and skip a song because I’ve featured it already. I wish I’d known back in early 2009 that I’d be featuring this album in full nearly two years later, but alas, I don’t plan that far ahead.

And I’m not going to break my most important rule, that I feature a different song every single day, by posting my first repeat. So instead I encourage you to visit my long-ago post on the song ‘Best Imitation of Myself‘ and then return here to read about ‘Video.’

OK, welcome back.

‘Video’ is another of my favorite songs on Ben Folds Five, although it’s getting silly for me to type that. Let’s face it, they’re all my favorite songs which is why this is my favorite album.

But this one is particularly good. It’s perhaps the saddest song on an album that has more sad songs than you’d think, considering the exuberance of the music.

This is a song about the longing for earlier, more innocent times. It’s about not really liking the people you and your friends have become. And it’s not that things were so much better in the “good old days”… you just didn’t seem to mind as much back then. As Folds puts it, “I remember when misery thrilled me much more.”

My take on the video in the chorus is that the singer is seeing himself in footage from years ago. He wants to become again the “stone-faced and pale” young man he sees, the young man who was miserable but at least optimistic, the young man who “can’t wait ’til the future gets here.”

Now that future is here, and he’s just as miserable but nowhere near as optimistic.

The most effective verse here is the final one when, following a kick-ass musical interlude, Folds’ voice cracks as he sings: “Well, I’ve seen some old friends sort of die or just turn into whatever must have been inside them. Whatever all of us had then in common grew up and left home.” That’s as insightful and poignant a statement about the move from adolescence into adulthood as I’ve ever read.

Barren stares as they light up the screen
Bearing teardrops that shatter in slow motion
Novocaine our brains and we’re out like lights

And as I’m growing older I’m bored
I remember when misery thrilled me much more
When I can’t relax
I’d like to go back

But that’s gone
We don’t think that way no more
Yeah that’s gone
Turn around
Turn the volume down
We’re counting the days down
To the day when we’ll live
In a video
I’ll be stone-faced and pale
You’ll pout in stereo
Twenty four hours every day of the year
Oh, what fun,
I can’t wait ’til the future gets here

Closing in on the pain and the torture
He’s slamming the door
Like it’s something to strive for
The girl tearing curtains down
Looks funny as hell
And a sense of humor
Can there be any doubt
Yeah, that natural selection
Has weeded it out?
Just to keep me from laughing out loud


Well, I’ve seen some old friends
Sort of die
Or just turn into whatever
Must have been inside them
Whatever all of us had then in common
Grew up and left home
We don’t think that way no more

Turn around
Turn the volume down
We’re counting the days down…


3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #875: ‘Video’ – Ben Folds Five

  1. Amy says:

    Song? 😦

  2. Dana says:

    I had always thought that the video reference was to watching himself/his band on MTV or VH1 years from now, but I suppose your interpretation makes more sense.

  3. Clay says:

    Sorry, song is posted now.

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