Song of the Day #3,516: ‘Zak and Sara (Live)’ – Ben Folds

I’m surprised I haven’t already featured Ben Folds’ ‘Zak and Sara,’ either its studio version (from Folds’ 2001 solo debut Rockin’ the Suburbs) or the live version posted today.

This song is a perfect example of Folds’ gift for quick character sketches. I’ve always said that at his lyrical best, his songs are essentially short stories. Short stories sung with sticky melodies over exuberant piano music.

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Song of the Day #3,515: ‘Today’s Teardrops’ – Fountains of Wayne

Fountains of Wayne followed up the success of its 2003 album Welcome Interstae Managers, and surprise hit single ‘Stacy’s Mom,’ with a double album called Out-of-State Plates, filled with odds and ends they’d amassed over their career to that point.

Albums like this are usually quick cash grabs or contract fillers, and this one is no exception. It is entirely unremarkable, featuring songs that were B-sides for good reasons.

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Song of the Day #3,509: ‘Natchez Trace’ – Dusty Springfield

I know ‘Natchez Trace’ as a bonus track on the deluxe edition of Dusty Springfield’s seminal classic Dusty in Memphis, but it turns out its backstory is rather interesting.

This song was originally recorded for an album titled Faithful, which was to be Springfield’s seventh studio recording. In 1971, Atlantic Records released two singles from the album but neither made the charts. Disappointed with the response, the studio shelved the album and declined to renew her contract.

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Song of the Day #3,508: ‘Electron Blue’ – R.E.M.

Today’s Random Weekend SOTD, ‘Electron Blue,’ is one of the best songs on R.E.M.’s worst album, 204’s Around the Sun. It’s the album’s second track and third single.

‘Electron Blue’ is lead singer Michael Stipe’s favorite track from this album, and one of his favorite R.E.M. songs, period. I like it well enough, and agree that it’s a highlight of an otherwise unforgettable album, but I’m sorry, this doesn’t stand up to the best of R.E.M., not even close.

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Song of the Day #3,502: ‘They’ve Trapped Us Boys’ – Jakob Dylan

It’s been six years since we last heard from Jakob Dylan, apart from a few one-off contributions to other people’s work. He released an album with The Wallflowers in 2012 (the band’s first in seven years) but nothing since.

I wasn’t thrilled with that Wallflowers release (Glad All Over) but I love pretty much everything they did in the 90s and 2000s. I also love Dylan’s two solo albums, 2008’s Seeing Things and 2010’s Women + Country, on which today’s SOTD appears.

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Song of the Day #3,501: ‘You Need a Man Around Here’ – Brad Paisley

Today’s Random Weekend selection comes from Brad Paisley’s 2005 album Time Well Wasted, his second of nine straight albums to hit #1 on the country charts (that streak is still going).

I rank Time Well Wasted as Paisley’s third best album, following American Saturday Night and Mud On the Tires.

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Song of the Day #3,495: ‘Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Movement 3’ – Ben Folds

Ah, the very rare instrumental track on a Random Weekend. This one comes from Ben Folds’ last album, So There, which featured eight songs backed by an orchestra as well as Ben’s ‘Concerto for Piano and Orchestra’ in three movements.

I listened to the full concerto once, after first buying the album, and never again until today. I just don’t find myself reaching for classical or orchestral music, even if I really enjoy it. I find this sort of thing better in the background, whether it’s the background of a movie or everyday life.

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