Geek Crush: Ben Folds

I’m a piano player. Like many children, my mother started me on the piano when I was seven. However, unlike many children (Dawn and Gardella included), for me it stuck. Being the type of person and geek that I am though, I couldn’t just be a normal, classically trained piano player. No. I quit classical music around age 14 and started getting interested in blues, jazz, and rock piano. Fortunately, I had the best piano teacher ever who let me try all these interesting things (and if you live in Central Jersey and need a teacher, let me give you his name!). In that time, I became really excited by rock and roll pianists such as Billy Joel, and pieces like Jethro Tull’s Locomotive Breath and Marc Coen’s Walking in Memphis.

It was about then that a song caught my attention with a beautiful piano part as the main melody line, although the lyrics were a bit depressing, but I was teenager so I don’t think I noticed! That song was Brick by Ben Folds Five and with help of my abilities to find and translate guitar tabs from the internet, I was soon able to play Brick myself. Then I hunted down the rest of the album Whatever and Ever, Amen and it was incredible! Then I saw Ben Folds himself on whatever music station I was currently watching, and there was this little, scrawny guy with glasses. Ben Folds was totally a nerd! A music nerd for that matter. That’s about the time I fell in love.

Ben Folds is definitely a music nerd. Technically, he was a percussion player, right down to his almost degree from the University of Miami, but he apparently spent a lot of time teaching himself piano techniques. His music is compositionally interesting and complex and his song styles range from almost folky ballads to alternative rock. Although he doesn’t necessarily write about specific geek topics, I find many of his songs to relate to the geek lifestyle. For example, One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces was truly the “it gets better” anthem of my high school experience and I think speaks to many geeks. In Rockin’ the Suburbs Ben makes fun of himself and the music industry, and Zak and Sara sounds like it should be an X-Files episode. I also love the songs Philosophy and Evaporated, which are kind of about holding onto yourself and losing yourself.

Ben Folds also manages to keep some really great company. He has worked with John McCrea of Cake and Weird Al Yankovic on Rockin’ the Suburbs. He produced Amanda Palmer’s, of the Dresden Dolls and married to Neil Gaiman, first solo album. He also worked with William f-ing Shatner himself on Shatner’s album Has Been. Most recently, as in Monday, he got together with Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman, and Damiam Kulash of OK Go and they spent eight hours writing and recorded an album. How awesome is that? They streamed it live as well, and I kept checking it out to see what was happening. I’m such a music geek.

So,  there, one of my enduring loves, and probably one of my biggest geek crushes: Ben Folds. Go buy their new creation Nighty Night by 8in8 and you can fall in love as well!

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Budd
    Apr 28, 2011 @ 09:34:29

    he is also a judge on the sing off.


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April 2011
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