Song of the Day #1,871: ‘Tiny Dancer (Live)’ – Ben Folds

ben_folds_liveIt’s funny how some of the best concert experiences involve artists playing somebody else’s music. Not that I’d want to watch a favorite act perform nothing but covers, but a couple of well-placed interpretations can really make a show.

A highlight of the recent Barenaked Ladies show I attended was a raucous late-show medley of recent chart toppers, including Taylor Swift’s ‘I Knew You Were Trouble,’ Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ and Macklemore’s ‘Thrift Shop.’ In a much different vein, Tift Merritt performed a lovely Joni Mitchell cover on piano.

Why are these moments so great?

For one thing, they are unexpected. You can predict most of the songs in a basic concert setlist, but unless you’ve been reading about the tour, you can’t help but be surprised by, say, an acoustic cover of Madonna’s ‘Like a Prayer.’

Also, it’s exciting to see the musician as a fan, giving a nod to an influence or just banging out a fun tune that’s dominating the radio.

Throughout his career, Ben Folds has been compared to early Elton John, so it was nice to see him acknowledge that debt with this cover of ‘Tiny Dancer’ released on his first live solo album.

Blue jean baby, L.A. lady, seamstress for the band
Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you’ll marry a music man
Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand
And now she’s in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand

Jesus freaks out in the street
Handing tickets out for God
Turning back she just laughs
The boulevard is not that bad

Piano man he makes his stand
In the auditorium
Looking on she sings the songs
The words she knows, the tune she hums

But oh how it feels so real
Lying here with no one near
Only you, and you can hear me
When I say softly, slowly

chorus:
Hold me closer tiny dancer
Count the headlights on the highway
Lay me down in sheets of linen
you had a busy day today

(repeat chorus)

Blue jean baby, L.A. lady, seamstress for the band
Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you’ll marry a music man
Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand
And now she’s in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand

But oh how it feels so real
Lying here with no one near
Only you, and you can hear me
When I say softly, slowly
(repeat chorus)

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,871: ‘Tiny Dancer (Live)’ – Ben Folds

  1. Dana says:

    I agree, a well played cover in concert can be a real treat. I think Ben’s cover here is quite nice.

  2. Amy says:

    Didn’t I once do a theme week on this blog devoted to great cover songs? Or did I just dream that? I love when an established artist covers a song – whether live in concert or on a tribute album or just a Coffeehouse acoustic performance. I think you could do a theme week of just covers of “Tiny Dancer” – I might really enjoy that theme week, too 🙂

  3. Amy says:

    This is fascinating.

  4. Amy says:


    This is fascinating.

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