Song of the Day #4,215: ‘Hold That Thought’ – Ben Folds Five

‘Hold That Thought’ is a standout track from Ben Folds Five’s reunion album, 2012’s The Sound of the Life of the Mind.

This track’s vibe sounds a lot like some of Folds’ solo work, such as ‘Jesusland’ from 2005’s Songs From Silverman. But Darren Jesse’s drumming and especially Robert Sledge’s bass work add something that Folds has never been quite able to capture the same way on his own.

As much as I love this song, one line has always given me pause. In the opening verses about a visit to a Chinese acupuncturist, Folds has the doctor say “if you not smile at him, then someone else will.” Fortunately, he doesn’t attempt an accent.

The broken English in those lines feels a bit icky. I don’t think the song would suffer at all if the line was changed to “if you don’t smile at him, then someone else will.”

She broke down and cried
At the strip mall acupuncturist
While the world went on outside

The Chinese doctor took her arm
Gazed at the floor and read her wrist
For the secrets in her life

“Here’s your medicine,” she said
“If you not smile at him, then someone else will.”
You hold that thought
And I’ll hold that thought, too

Ah ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh
Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh

I was shown the thirty-six
Ways I’m not available
On a simple, easy chart

Later on that evening
On the beach in Santa Monica
It was a very risky start

Suppose the stupid chart is right
In a year will you still feel the same way?
Ah, well, you hold that thought
And I’ll hold that thought, too

Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh
Ah, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh
Ahh, ahh

Did you ever see the film
Where a man is given spectacles
That make the world look upside-down?

He falls about the place
But in time he somehow readjusts
And when they take the glasses off
The eyes he’s always had see sky below him
And he falls again

Ah, but you hold that thought
And I’ll hold that thought
You hold that thought
And I’ll hold that thought
You hold that thought
And I’ll hold that thought

Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh
Ooooh

One thought on “Song of the Day #4,215: ‘Hold That Thought’ – Ben Folds Five

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    Until you pointed it out, I always heard the line as “if you don’t smile at him.” Ben can at times be rather sophomoric, but the quasi-racism seems unnecessary and out of place with the tone and mood of this song and album as a whole. Still, this is a great song on a great album.

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