Song of the Day #4,182: ‘Doc Pomus’ – Ben Folds

Best Albums of the 2010s – #10
Lonely Avenue – Ben Folds (2010)

Ben Folds, one of my favorite artists, had a very lean decade. His last solo release was 2015’s So There, an album recorded with the chamber ensemble yMusic that featured a handful of songs plus an orchestral piece. Before that, you have to go all the way back to 2010.

But that 2010 album was a doozy. Written in collaboration with novelist/screenwriter Nick Hornby, Lonely Avenue is possibly Folds’ best work outside of Ben Folds Five (and speaking of that trio, 2012 did see a very good reunion album by the band titled The Sound of the Life of the Mind).

Lonely Avenue was an unlikely collaboration between a favorite writer and a favorite musician, and it played to the strengths of both men. Hornby’s lyrics are mostly character sketches that fully flesh out their protagonists in the course of a few verses, while Folds pairs the word with some of his finest melodies and compositions to date.

I like this album so much I’ve featured more than half of its songs on the blog over the past 10 years and I haven’t run out of great material. In fact, today’s track (‘Doc Pomus’) is one of the album’s best cuts.

This past year, Folds took to book-writing himself, publishing a charming memoir titled A Dream About Lightning Bugs: A Life of Music and Cheap Lessons. Interestingly, while he goes into a fair amount of detail about almost all of his albums, this one goes unmentioned.

Man in a wheelchair, lobby of the Forrest
With frighters, hustlers, hard-up millionaires
Mobsters, cops, whores, pimps and Marxists
All human life is there

Man in a wheelchair listens to the chatter
Writes down all the insane crap he hears
He can’t move around but it doesn’t really matter
In the Forrest all you need is eyes and ears

And out they pour, the hits and the misses
“Turn Me Loose,” “Lonely Avenue”
And down in Nashville, Elvis sings “Suspicion”
Pomus/Shuman, 1962

And he never could be one of those happy cripples
The kind that smile and tell you life’s OK
He was mad as hell, frightened and bitter
He found a way to make his feelings pay

Back at the Forrest, in the steakhouse off the lobby
A diner gets three bullets in the head
Doc looks down, eating his linguine
Thinking up a lyric for the dead

And out they pour, the hits and the misses
“Turn Me Loose,” “Lonely Avenue”
And down in Nashville, Elvis sings “Suspicion”
Pomus/Shuman, 1962
1962

Fred Neil, Jack Benny, crazy Phil Spector
Pumpkin Juice and Eydie Gormé
Damon Runyon, Jr. and the Duke’s orchestra
All superhuman life was there

And he never could be one of those happy cripples
The kind that smile and tell you life’s OK
He was mad as hell, frightened and bitter
He found a way to make his isolation pay

And out they pour, the hits and misses
“Turn Me Loose,” “Lonely Avenue”
And down in Nashville, Elvis sings “Suspicion”
Pomus/Shuman, 1962

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,182: ‘Doc Pomus’ – Ben Folds

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    It’s been decades since I consistently played entire album from even my favorite artists, but Lonely Avenue and Sound of the Life of the Mind are notable exceptions. I know and love every track from these records.

  2. The Cool Guy (Daniel) says:

    Love this album! I hope that the one artist rule doesn’t apply to solo artists and bands because “Sound of the Life of the Mind” I would argue is an even better record!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.