Ben Folds is such a good songwriter that he can’t deliver a bad tune even when he wants to.
‘One Down’ is about a time Folds’ record company required him to write 4.6 songs in order to fulfill his contract. Apparently he received .4 worth of credit for an earlier co-written song.
He shit this one out (as he colorfully puts it) to chip away at the obligation.
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.
It’s funny how some of the best concert experiences involve artists playing somebody else’s music. Not that I’d want to watch a favorite act perform nothing but covers, but a couple of well-placed interpretations can really make a show.
A highlight of the recent Barenaked Ladies show I attended was a raucous late-show medley of recent chart toppers, including Taylor Swift’s ‘I Knew You Were Trouble,’ Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ and Macklemore’s ‘Thrift Shop.’ In a much different vein, Tift Merritt performed a lovely Joni Mitchell cover on piano.