Calling it Quits

Inspired by: Give Judy My Notice” (2005), from the Ben Folds album Songs for Silverman

The end of a relationship is often not by mutual consent. Sure, having the big blowout fight with slamming doors and cars peeling out of driveways feels mutual. But the end of most relationships is not typically that dramatic. Often, one person ends the relationship long before the other has realized it.

I’m guilty of this, at least on a subconscious level. Not really working on a relationship is the same as abandoning it, and that’s something I did once upon a time. Or multiple times. In both romantic relationships and platonic ones. If you stop putting in the effort for something to exist, of course it’s going end.

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Inspired by: Regrets” (1999), from the Ben Folds Five album The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner

As we hurdle through life on this dying planet, there are often points in our lives where we are given a choice of what path to pursue. Often these inflection points aren’t known at the time. We just idly go through our lives, letting the fates or whatever take us on our merry way. It’s only in hindsight that we see that a different choice could have led us down some unknown path, some alternate reality where some other version of us from the multiverse is living a different version of our same life.

I used to “regret” some of those choices I made once upon a time. Like what if I had decided to apply to West Point instead of just thinking about it, or what if I had asked that crush from high school out instead of looking for connection on the internet. But a lot of those regrets stemmed from something about how I felt in that moment; the West Point dream was when I was dissatisfied with where my Army career had ended up, the girl when my first marriage was crumbling around me. Not that I wanted to necessarily go back and make different choices. I’m sure the alternate version of me in those realities was having different struggles and looking back at different inflection points.

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Stop and Smell the Smoke

Inspired by: “Smoke” (1997), from the Ben Folds Five album Whatever and Ever Amen

I’ve often said that the music of Ben Folds (Five) has punctuated many intervals of my life and today’s song is no exception. This song is currently among my favorite Ben Folds’ songs (the list changes from time to time depending on my mood), but it holds that spot for one special reason in my life.

When I started dating the woman who would become my wife, she went out on a limb and bought us tickets for a Ben Folds’ concert with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra shortly into our relationship. It was at a time where I wasn’t sure what my long-term plans were. I was still looking for jobs in Chicago, not yet planning on coming back to Utah, and unsure of what I really wanted to do once I finished my degree. She says that regardless of all that, she was coming with me wherever we went, and that was enough to buy those tickets.

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Not the Same

Inspired by: Not the Same” (2001), from the Ben Folds album Rockin’ the Suburbs

Didn’t think I’d be the second post in on this little experiment and already default to writing about the song as the bulk of the entry and not something else, yet here we are.

This is not one of my favorite songs from the catalog, and it ranked fairly low among all the other Track 9s once upon a time, though that might be more a product of the other songs from that particular track than any issues with the song.

The song itself is about an experience an acquaintance of Ben Folds had the first time they tried acid; they literally climbed a tree at a party and came back down a born-again Christian. This story has been told at numerous concerts I’m sure and makes an appearance on the recording of the live version from Ben Folds Live. And the song remains one of the better ones to hear live, if only for the bit of audience participation at the end.

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