‘Steven’s Last Night in Town’ is a standout song on an album full of standout songs, Ben Folds Five’s sophomore release Whatever and Ever Amen. It’s about record producer Stephen Short, a friend of Ben Folds who came to visit and never left. As Folds recalls, “we must have thrown five or six going-away parties for him.”
For one thing, most of my favorite artists turn out to be soloists. And the bands are either still together or past the point of getting back together. I don’t see The Beatles, for example, as eligible for this category because two of them are dead. I don’t think my wishing they were back together extends to wishing people back to life.
Ben Folds Five leaves a pair of indie acts in its wake, having defeated Aimee Mann in Round One with 60% of the vote and Vampire Weekend in Round Two with 75%. Counting Crows enjoyed a unanimous victory against Morrissey in Round One before taking down the legendary David Bowie with 63%. Continue reading
Vampire Weekend got here by defeating Pink Floyd with 70% of the vote. Ben Folds Five had a slightly harder path, taking down Aimee Mann with 60%. I voted for Vampire Weekend and against Ben Folds Five in the first round, but would have reversed those votes had they switched their opponents. Continue reading
For a moment, I thought I had. So I went back to my notes to see exactly how things shook out.
Turns out the album was in the 21st spot, bumped out of the countdown when I decided to make a space for Adele’s 21, which I had forgotten when first compiling the list.
‘Sports & Wine,’ from Ben Folds Five’s self-titled debut, is as light on its feet as anything the band produced. The studio version (my Song of the Day #873) gives each of the band members a chance to shine, especially Darren Jesse on drums.
The harder question was which one.
Something from the debut album — ‘Jackson Cannery’ or ‘Philosophy,’ perhaps, or ‘Alice Childress’? Or one of the lush standouts from their sophomore effort — ‘Selfless, Cold and Composed’ or ‘Missing the War’?