Song of the Day #2,108: ‘Kate’ – Ben Folds Five

whateverOn a film podcast I listed to recently, the hosts discussed Sight & Sound‘s decision to no longer let critics combine The Godfather and The Godfather Part Two into one entry when submitting their “ten best films of all time” lists.

It’s no doubt the correct decision. It’s patently unfair to let two masterpieces join forces in facing off against individual films. But they tell such a potent and tragic tale together that you kind of want to bend the rules and just go with it.

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Song of the Day #1,846: ‘Draw a Crowd’ – Ben Folds Five

bff_sound_life_mindThe middle act of last week’s concert was the reason my family and I attended in the first place — Ben Folds Five.

I’d seen the group twice before, touring for their second and third albums, and I’d seen Folds perform solo once. I also have many recordings of the band playing live, from a DVD of their excellent Sessions at West 54th performance to both released and bootleg audio files.

So while I’m not exactly the BFF equivalent of a Deadhead, I am pretty familiar with the band’s live show.

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Song of the Day #1,795: ‘On Being Frank’ – Ben Folds Five

bff_sound_life_mindI’ve been doing a lot of theme weeks in recent months. I like the structure they provide and, I’ll be honest, it’s easier to come up with five songs per week around a specific theme than to write five discrete posts.

Still, I sometimes like the chance to throw out five unrelated songs to make five unrelated points — even if the point is as simple as ‘I like this song.’

So I’ll do that this week. (Wait, did this just become a theme?)

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Song of the Day #1,779: ‘Army (Live)’ – Ben Folds Five

folds_retrospectiveWhen a favorite artist has a new album on the way, I go out of my way to not hear anything from it until its release.

Occasionally I’ll get sucked in, because it’s really hard to resist those “Check out the new song from the upcoming Vampire Weekend!” posts that pop up in my Facebook feed. But for the most part I want to go into an anticipated new album with virgin ears.

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Song of the Day #1,631: ‘Michael Praytor, Five Years Later’ – Ben Folds Five

bff_sound_life_mindTop Songs of 2012 – #6

One of my happiest musical memories of 2012 was the reunion of Ben Folds Five thirteen years after their last album together. Their new record, The Sound of the Life of the Mind, sounded exactly like a Ben Folds Five record should sound a decade later — it wasn’t a flashback so much as an evolution.

It’s funny how the addition of a drummer and bassist who rarely contribute to the songwriting can change a band’s sound. The difference between the four Ben Folds Five albums and Folds’ solo work is really just the men behind the instruments. But Darren Jesse and Robert Sledge combine with Folds to form a musical alchemy that elevates the whole package.

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Song of the Day #1,566: ‘Do It Anyway’ – Ben Folds Five

Yesterday I wrote about the nostalgia for 90’s acts that contributed to a new release by The Wallflowers. No doubt many people will look at the reunion of Ben Folds Five in the same light.

The band put out three studio albums between 1995 and 1999 then broke up unexpectedly. Their output generated one medium-sized hit (‘Brick’) and a small but devoted legion of fans like myself who couldn’t believe something so great ended so quickly.

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Song of the Day #1,378: ‘Alice Childress (Live)’ – Ben Folds Five

Best Albums of the 90s – #1
Ben Folds Five – Ben Folds Five (1995)

This pick will come as no surprise to regular readers of the blog. I’ve gone on record calling this my favorite album and even featured it in its entirety a year and a half ago.

In fact, I’ve had to cheat in order to post a song today. This recording of ‘Alice Childress’ isn’t from the album itself but from a live radio performance by the band on KCRW. Fittingly, given yesterday’s featured album, Folds writes in the liner notes that he sang this song “absolutely intimidated by Fiona Apple’s performance on the same show.”

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