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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Juggling and Magic Tricks

Inspired by: Best Imitation of Myself” (1995) from the Ben Folds Five album Ben Folds Five

The song that inspired it all!

This song is probably among the top ten if I was to ever do a ranking of Ben Folds songs. It is perhaps one of the most impactful songs from his catalogue that had lasting consequences on my life. I’ve mentioned my history with this song briefly before:

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