The Ideal Woman

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


When I think about Ben Folds Five and what led me to them in the first place, it’s the album Whatever and Ever Amen, and this song in particular. As this is the second song from that album that has been randomly chosen for this little experiment, let’s take a spin in the wayback machine to when I first heard the song referenced…

When the album was released in March 1997, I was in the midst of my sophomore year of high school. I had just turned 16, and as most boys of that age, I was crushing hard on girls. In the religion of my youth, the one that dominates the state of my birth, 16 was a magical age. It was the year that young Mormons were finally allowed to “date,” whatever your version of the word means. For a lot of my friends, it was a time where you could find a comely lass and invite her to a dance, and maybe if there was some version of mutual affection, you would “go out” with each other.

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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.

Continue reading “Stop and Smell the Smoke”

Song of the Week – Smoke

While I am still trying to figure out which of the tracks from the new Ben Folds Five album The Sound of the Life of the Mind is my favorite, I thought I would go back to the Ben Folds Five well for this week’s Song of the Week. It’s another song that may not have ranked all that high when I did Ben Folds by Track last year, but it has recently been playing a bunch as I shuffle through all my music, and it is a great song to frighten unsuspecting passengers when driving back from Wendover and they think you are sleeping (looking at you, Megan).

That song is “Smoke” from the album Whatever and Ever Amen. With my change in opinion on this song and “Magic” from a while ago, I think I might have to redo my by track ratings while inserting the ten tracks from the new album. In the meantime, here are the lyrics to what I now view as a pretty underrated song, written by Folds and his ex-wife/writing partner Anna Goodman. My favorite version is the version with the Western Australia Symphony Orchestra from this album, but the original album version is still good in its own right:

Leaf by leaf,
And page by page,
Throw this book away.
All the sadness,
All the rage,
Throw this book away.

Rip out the binding
And tear the glue.
All the grief we never even knew.
We had it all along,
Now it’s…smoke.

All the things we’ve written in it,
Never really happened.
All the things we’ve written in it,
Never really happened.
All of the people come and gone,
Never really lived,
And all the people come have gone,
No one to forgive.
Smoke.

We will not write a new one.
There will never be anew one,
Another one, another one.

Here’s an evening dark with shame,
Throw it on the fire.
Here’s the time I took the blame,
Throw it on the fire.
Here is the view we didn’t speak, it seemed, for years and years,
And here’s the secret no one will ever know.
No reasons for the tears,
Made of smoke.
Smoke.
Smoke.

We will not write a new one.
There will never be a new one,
Another one,
Another one.
Another one.

Where do all the secrets live,
They travel in the air.
You can smell them when they burn,
Travelling.

Those who say the past is not dead,
Come and smell the smoke.
You keep saying the past is not dead,
Stop and smell the smoke.
You keep on saying the past is not even past,
You keep saying,
We are smoke.
Smoke.

– Ben Folds Five, Whatever and Ever Amen

Until next time…