NOTE: This blog entry originally appeared in November of 2010
by Chad Campbell, senior producer
I’ve been a fan of Ben Folds since the height of his band’s popularity in the mid and late 1990s. Ben Folds Five (which inexplicably had only three members) featured piano, bass and drums (no guitar) playing rock with a bit of jazz and punk thrown in - delightful counter-programming during the heyday of grunge. I’d been trying to get him on our show for a while now and it turns out he had another more important fan of his music. British novelist Nick Hornby (author of Fever Pitch, High Fidelity and About a Boy) wrote a book called Songbook which collected 31 of his favorite songs and Hornby’s thoughts on them. One of the songs he wrote about was Smoke by Ben Folds Five. Hornby praised Folds for the cleverness of the lyrics but that was the one tune on their CD Whatever and Ever Amen NOT written by Ben Folds. He wrote an email to set Hornby straight and a friendship was born. Folds and Hornby formed a long-distance mutual admiration society, kept in touch and worked on small projects together - then decided to collaborate on an entire album. The result is their CD called Lonely Avenue. The deluxe version includes a booklet featuring four Hornby short stories. Nick Hornby wrote the lyrics, some containing R-rated words and sent them off to his friend Ben Folds. Their 11 songs range from the silly to the heartbreaking but they’re all well-crafted SHORT stories.
Click here to see a video of Folds and Hornby describe the project.
Click here for Nick Hornby’s website.
Here’s the official video of the Hornby/Folds song From Above.
Here is the video made by a fan for the Hornby/Folds song Saskia Hamilton.
And here is the video for Brick, the biggest hit for Ben Folds Five.