Song of the Day #948: ‘Gracie’ – Ben Folds

Today is the 5th birthday of my younger daughter, Fiona. Yes, she was born on Valentine’s Day… cue all the comments about how sweet that is.

I figured it was appropriate to pull out the mack-daddy of father/daughter songs today. I have a few others I love (and I promise to feature one on June 20, my other daughter’s birthday) but ‘Gracie’ by Ben Folds is the one song to rule them all.

Appearing on Folds’ Songs for Silverman, this is one of the songs that caused fair-weather fans to dismiss him as soft. Those morons hadn’t been paying much attention to the rest of his career.

‘Gracie’ is full of the sort of simple but powerful lyrics that Folds excels at. Lines like “I would never try to make you be anything you didn’t really want to be” and “you’ll be a lady soon but until then you gotta do what I say.”

One image that resonates with me comes toward the end of the song: “You nodded off in my arms watching TV. I won’t move you an inch even thought my arm’s asleep.” I have so many memories of exactly that situation with both of my daughters. And now they’re both so big — the idea that I once held their whole bodies in my arms is surreal.

But the line that hits me the hardest is the one that bookends the song. “And there will always be a part of me nobody else is ever gonna see but you and me, my little girl.” So true, and it’s the most important part of all.

Happy birthday, Fiona!

You can’t fool me, I saw you when you came out
You got your momma’s taste but you got my mouth
And you will always have a part of me
Nobody else is ever going to see
Gracie girlWith your cards to your chest walking on your toes
What you got in the box only Gracie knows
And I would never try to make you be
Anything you didn’t really want to be
Gracie girl

Life flies by in seconds
You’re not a baby Gracie, you’re my friend
You’ll be a lady soon but until then
You gotta do what I say

You nodded off in my arms watching TV
I won’t move you an inch even though my arm’s asleep

One day you’re gonna want to go
I hope we taught you everything you need to know
Gracie girl

And there will always be a part of me
Nobody else is ever gonna see but you and me
My little girl
My Gracie girl

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3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #948: ‘Gracie’ – Ben Folds

  1. Dana says:

    A wonderful birthday tribute to Fiona. Such a beautiful, poignant song.

    The mark of any truly great musical artist is the ability to be multi-dimensional. Costello has demonstrated that throughout his career, as has Joe Jackson, Springsteen, Billy Joel, Elton John, Randy Newman, Paul Simon, etc…Folds places himself amongst the greats because of that range and diversity of styles, moods and emotions. So, for those critics who don’t understand or appreciate the softer, more sentimental side of Folds, all I can say is screw them and their one dimensional taste.

    Oh, and happy birthday, Fiona:)

  2. peg says:

    How lovely, Happy Birthday dear Fiona!

  3. Amy says:

    Well, you made me cry. Hope you’re proud of yourself!

    In addition to the many poignant and clever lines you have already pointed out, there is another that makes an even greater impact on me. I imagine that’s because our “Gracie girl” is already 15.

    The line?

    “One day you’re gonna want to go
    I hope we taught you everything you need to know”

    So simple and so powerful. We’ll never be able to teach her everything she needs to know, of course, and that’s just so damn difficult to accept.

    Still, Folds manages to express the anguish and hope so perfectly as he belts that line that at least he makes the rest of us know we’re not alone.

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