Brighamland

Inspired by: Jesusland” (2005) from the Ben Folds’ album Songs for Silverman


Two straight posts kinda centered on the dominant religion of Utah. Oh joy!

When I listen to “Jesusland,” I can picture the type of southern or rural area that Ben Folds is describing. He grew up in North Carolina, and I’ve seen those places with giant crosses, dollar stores, and other indications of religiosity undergirding everything. I also see the same thing here in Utah, never failing to pass an LDS meeting house when I venture out of the house, unless I am driving in one specific direction and not that far.

If you’ve ever been to Utah, it’s probably to come see all our amazing National Parks and Monuments. Or the mountains, for summer hikes or winter skiing. We have a “booming” tech industry with a dumb name (Silicon Slopes), trying to take advantage of our generally well-educated citizens and lower cost of living compared to the Bay Area or other tech hubs.

Otherwise, what’s the point of coming here? We have terrible air for half the year, from the winter inversions (January to March) and smoke from wildfires in the summer (June to August). We have funny laws related to alcohol, and despite being surrounded by states with versions of legalized gambling (either lotteries or actual gambling) resulting in funding for schools and whatnot, our Republican-led supermajority legislature will never allow those “vices” to come to Utah, letting the citizens of our state to fund our neighbors through their “illicit” border runs for PowerBall, weed, or fancy booze.

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Shame and Guilt and Fear…

Inspired by: Cigarette” (1997) from the Ben Folds Five album Ben Folds Five


How old were you when you first realized that your parents were human? That they weren’t some weird, bigger version of you that seemingly knew everything somehow and that they existed before you did and had flaws and struggles and long-term trials to be the best version of themselves that they could be?

This realization comes early for a lot of kids. It doesn’t take much to pierce that image honestly. I can’t pinpoint an exact date myself, but I’m sure it happened long before the incident I’m going to talk about in this blog. Like the first time that I “outscored” my dad in out nightly Jeopardy! watch. Or I came to him with AP Calculus homework that I didn’t understand and he had to read my textbook to refresh his memory how to do what I was asking. Or our struggles with poverty growing up, though a lot of that was pretty well shielded from us kids growing up until we got a little older and realized just how poor we were.

But the day that I fully realized my dad was truly human occurred sometime in 2005, when I learned something that managed to shock me in such a way I collapsed to the floor crying in my sisters’ apartment and ultimately led me to finally leave the Mormon church. It was the night I found out that my dad was a smoker.

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Signs You’ve Made It

Inspired by: Free Coffee” (2008) from the Ben Folds’ album Way to Normal


As the first song from Way to Normal to pop up in the series, let’s talk about how Ben Folds recorded almost two whole albums and “leaked” the “wrong” version of the songs, which led to a lot of internet discussion on the various Ben Folds sites around the internet what was going on because the “leaked” versions were definitely a little more foul mouthed than regular Ben Folds.

As a quick aside, the first time I saw him perform “Free Coffee” live was pretty amazing. If you listen to the song, it has a very distinct piano sound, one that people that he made by using a distortion pedal or something similar. But one of the first times I saw him play the song live, which was a few weeks before the album had even released, he put a tin of Altoids on the piano strings and did some other stuff I’m surely forgetting to get the wonderful sound.

He also apparently did it at a show I went to a few months before that show that the internet apparently forgot (but I was there, I promise!). It just reinforces his musical bonafides in my eye, something that was further reinforced when I was a member of his Patreon a while ago and he wrote a song in a couple of hours (from lyrics submitted by patrons) playing all the instruments while we watched in stunned silence for the most part.

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Live Music Shenanigans

Inspired by: F10-D-A” (2015) from the Ben Folds (with Y Music) album So There


I have seen Ben Folds perform live at least a dozen times, though the number is probably closer to 20 the more that I think about it. Aside from probably the first time I saw him – the X96 Big Ass Show in 1999 – it never fails that some jackass will scream from the audience “Rock this bitch!” at some point. It’s something that started at the early Ben Folds Five shows, when the “Five” were booking “rock clubs” and people would be surprised when there were only three dudes, one of which was playing a piano.

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