Song of the Day #1,795: ‘On Being Frank’ – Ben Folds Five

bff_sound_life_mindI’ve been doing a lot of theme weeks in recent months. I like the structure they provide and, I’ll be honest, it’s easier to come up with five songs per week around a specific theme than to write five discrete posts.

Still, I sometimes like the chance to throw out five unrelated songs to make five unrelated points — even if the point is as simple as ‘I like this song.’

So I’ll do that this week. (Wait, did this just become a theme?)

Ben Folds Five’s ‘On Being Frank’ is a cut from their recent reunion album, The Sound of the Life of the Mind.

It is sung from the perspective of a man who was Frank Sinatra’s personal assistant for three decades (I don’t know if it’s based on a real person).

It’s a sweet, sad tale about living in the shadow of somebody larger than life and suddenly finding yourself adrift when he passes away. I suppose it could be read as a metaphor for anybody who dedicates their lives to the service of somebody else, but like many of Folds’ best songs, its specificity is what makes it so great.

I had it all, or should I say I saw it all?
And it’s a long way from the dustbin of New Jersey to the top
Who would have known?
Who would have known?

I had a dream, but dreams had other plans for me
For 30 years I set the thermostat
Where Frank Sinatra liked it,
Pulled his girls and hung his hats
I never knew which ones were mine
Now he’s gone, and I’m alone

And I don’t know where I might be going
I rode the wind, the wind stopped blowing
Set me on the roadside thumbing home
But home, for me was always someone else, you know
That shadows always fall when the sun goes down

I shook the hands of mafia dons and presidents
And though they always smiled politely
With a measure of decorum
Still their eyes would scan beyond me
For a glimpse of something more
But now he’s gone,
Now they’re gone

And I don’t know where I might be going
I rode the wind, the wind stopped blowing
Set me on the roadside thumbing home
But home, for me was always someone else you know
That shadows always fall when the sun goes down

Alone, a shadow of a star, don’t you know?
That shadows always fall, yeah shadows always fall
When the sun goes down

And I don’t know where I might be going
I rode the wind, the wind stopped blowing
Set me on the roadside thumbing home
And home, for me was always someone else, you know

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,795: ‘On Being Frank’ – Ben Folds Five

  1. Dana says:

    Well, I like this non theme theme, and this is a great pick from a great album. I particularly like the way folds captures the musical style of a Sinatra song in the verses, yet the chorus becomes more distinctly folds’ style.

  2. pegclifton says:

    what an interesting idea for a song; I don’t know that Sinatra had someone like that but I bet he did.

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