Steve J. Moore

On My Way Home from Normal

In Writing on December 2, 2008 at 10:24 pm

It’s been a long couple of weeks and student teaching is coming to a close: papers due, assignments to grade, and time records to double and triple-check (in pencil of course). Driving home from Republic, Ben Folds banged on 88 piano keys and rang loudly in my ears. His new album, Way to Normal, has been out for several weeks now and I’ve heard a lot of good.

If I could give the album three adjectives to describe it:

Wistful

Organ-grinder

Philarious

Ok, that last one is cheating, but I wanted to say philosophical+hilarious! Wistful, is probably too soft of an adjective to describe the entire album per se, but the elements that are so foil the artist I think. Folds has always been full of…wist…to me.

Expectantly or yearningly eager, watchful, or intent; mournfully expectant or longing. (Chiefly in reference to the look.)

Thanks OED, don’t know what I’d do without you! Just looking at Ben Folds you get a sense of his style. His constant half-smirk is always wispering something melodic, existential, and half-cursing, into my ear. I ordered Whatever and Ever Amen from Columbia House (13 CDs for ONE CENT!!!!) back in 1997. I was 13, what can I say? But the album has always stuck with me. His lyrics are raw not like a shank of uncooked beef, but rather like a California roll from a hole-in-the wall suburban take-out place.

Maybe Organ-grinder isn’t an adjective, but I’m adopting it into my musical lexicon of description. Listen to You Don’t Know Me, featuring the incomparable Regina Spektor.

It’s so wonderfully full of noncannon sound. The little five-piece group backing Ben and Regina makes the song my favorite toy in the box. It’s fun, brightly colored, and it hasn’t bored me yet.

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  1. Hah, the video was removed from YouTube, probably due to copyright infringement.

  2. Dang! There is always that. I’ll try to find a non-infringing source.

  3. I’ve always liked Ben Folds, but I never bought any of his music. Any ideas why? Maybe I’ll hit the used CD emporium and pick up a few. Love the new layout. I like how it lists the blogs you read. Have you checked out “The Kyle Baxter Project”? It’s second-to-none! Kidding, of course, and thank you for your readership. I just thought I’d break the ice and finally leave you a comment. I have been keeping up with your posts. Short, sweet, insightful. Just like you, I guess. Ha! I’ve said to much already.

  4. This is his best tune since Rockin’ the Suburbs (the album, not the song.) The production on this thing is absolutely killer.

  5. I’d have to agree, I need to get to another Ben Folds concert and see him live on this track, with Regina would be even better.

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