Ben Folds was the coolest fucking guy to me right after I started college. Whatever and Ever Amen‘s piano-rock barely left my CD player after I bought it. Then I saw Ben Folds Five in 1998 with the bands Train and Fleming & John opening after The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner was released. I still have the ticket stub to this day, preserved in the back of the jewel case of my copy of Whatever. About a year after that concert, the band broke up (although it was not, as “Army” might lead you to believe, in May.)
And then, as a solo artist, my love has waned with each subsequent release. Rockin’ the Suburbs was still kind of cool, but something was off about it. I have seen him live a couple times since then, and while he’s undeniably talented, it’s my opinion that he’s lost that raw energy that was evident on his earlier albums. Songs for Silverman was almost unlistenable for me.
But before Silverman was released, he put out three EPs (Speed Graphic, Super D, and Sunny 16) in rapid succession – each one only four or five songs – and they contained everything I used to love about seeing Ben play live, combined with less production. Unexpected covers, goofy lyrics, rousing piano. They were released in a package form on Supersunnyspeedgraphic, The LP, but not in the same versions that endeared themselves to me, and those who simply bought that album missed out on a couple of tracks. So here, my friends are two of the best songs off of those EPs. One was released in a bastard form on Silverman and the other can only be found on the EP as far as I know.
“Give Judy My Notice” has this one part that kills me every single time; it’s right at the end of the song – about 30 seconds to go – after he sings “Judy” a couple of times. When he sings the word “notice” the last two times he tweaks the note a little bit. (You people who know music technically can maybe tell me what this is actually called.) And it’s the prettiest and saddest part of a song that actually feels like a break-up. It’s honest about the emotion and heartbreak that comes with the end of a relationship.
And “Protection” just rolls right on through you.
Both of the songs happen to be from the Speed Graphic EP. Enjoy them because they may be the last vestige of the old Ben – the one that defined our late teens/early twenties.
Ben Folds – Give Judy My Notice (mp3) from Speed Graphic EP
Ben Folds – Protection (mp3) from Speed Graphic EP