Tim Baker fills in for Brendan who is out with a nasty case of the bends after surfacing too quickly.
I am creamy for Ben Folds. I have been creamy for Ben Folds going on almost 15 years now. I fucking love this goofy son of a bitch. I don’t know how common it is for a grown man to make such proclamations. I imagine it's pretty common because he has a ton of fans, yet all my friends who know of my Ben Folds obsession derisively laugh as they tell me that “their wives love him too”. Maybe I just need new friends; these fuckers seem to still be into the fucking Sneaker Pimps.
I can vividly remember the first time I heard Ben Folds, it was in 1997 and my brother and I were working as merchandisers for Coors beer. We were driving through the Rockefeller Estate and he threw Whatever and Ever Amen in the cassette deck on some “Check this shit out” steez. Being that I was obsessed with Cappadonna at the time I tried to front like I didn’t really like it all that much but this cat was talking to me. It was like he reached right into my gut and gave it the finger. He knew my life, my struggles, my pain, and my insecurities. He was me and after hearing him life would never be the same.
Whatever and Ever became my crack, I would binge on it, try to dry out and always come crawling back looking for that next hit. I couldn’t get enough, every lyric was loaded with feelings and emotions that captured exactly I was going through. Being in my early twenties and completely self absorbed probably helped facilitate this thought, but in my mind we were kindred spirits, suffering through the travails of a life that was unfair and more often than not brutal. It captured the upheaval one goes through when they are forced into adulthood and not really ready for it. The broken relationships that once defined you, the ridiculous crushes on unobtainable women that break your heart, the uncertainty of the old social structures being broken up and ultimately the terror that comes from mourning your past and embracing the freedom that is your life are all beautifully laid out, simple and perfect.
Ben Folds Five – Evaporated:
With his next album The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner he did it again, I have no idea how he knew so much about me but he was dead on. When it first dropped I honestly didn’t like, I figured my time with Mr. Folds had come to an end. This wouldn’t be a new thing, shit it wouldn’t be an old thing. The wreckage of bands I left in the wake of my musical consumption is epic and the body count is still growing. Somehow, Reinhold Messner made its way into my anti-skip Discman, and once I got past the opening track Narcolepsy it clubbed me over the head with the recognition. I was working a dead end job, sort of wandering aimlessly. I had ended a five year relationship and did so without giving it much thought at all. One day I just knew it was get married or get out. I got out and got out fast. To cope with the loneliness I had started up a new relationship with a woman that can best be described as a rebound and at worst as the kind of girl your parents pray you don’t get pregnant.
I would spend my lunch and after work hours walking around Manhattan listening to these songs and thinking about how I messed up and where it all went wrong. I spent hours wondering if I was destined to be the kind of person that just ruined everyone around him and if I was just better off being by myself and not causing anymore damage. Ultimately I learned a lot about myself, who I thought I was and who I hoped I would become. I don’t know if I learned it from listening to the album or if these were conclusions I would come to on my own all I know is that once again Ben and I got there together.
Ben Folds Five – Don’t Change Your Plans:
After Reinhold Messner Ben and I went our separate ways for a while. He went solo, and I started spending a lot of time with Ghostface Killah and Outkast, but eventually we reconnected. It was after a particularly tough break up, with a woman who is essentially the love of my life that I came upon a series of EPs that he released both solo and with his group The Bens, which is Ben Folds, Ben Kweller and Ben Lee. I could tell that Ben was experimenting with taking his music in a new direction, new structures and topics. Songs that focused on the frustrations of a post millennium America, more mature views on heartbreak and relationships and just a better understanding of who he was. I was going through a similar transformation. Entering my thirties, letting go of some habits and choices that haunted my twenties and eventually, like Ben coming to the realization that my life was whatever it was because of me. I had to let go of the shit that drove me batty and take bold steps to improve my life regardless of the potential shattering blows that may come.
We were both a little more mature, understood the nuance of life and how simple misunderstandings could lead to unspeakable heartache. With songs like Kalamazoo and Bruised I was often forced to confront the demons I hid from, eventually course correct and find happiness. The song from this period that was most fitting was off of his Songs for Silverman album, a little number called Landed. It was in this song that I felt he was using his sage like wisdom to point me in the right direction. It was because of this song that I am actually back with the love of my life and we now have a wonderful daughter. Is it cheesy? Yeah it is but so what, if Ben has taught me anything it is that you got to take it where you can get it, your happiness is what matters most in life. Thanks Ben, you have been a good friend.
Ben Folds – Landed: