This month I decided to dust off Whatever and Ever Amen by Ben Folds Five. I (obviously) hadn't listened to it in a while and wasn't expecting much. Most remember this album for its 1997 hit “Brick”; more on that song in just a bit. In addition to that track, the rest of the album is really quite good. The opening track “One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces” is a great up-tempo way to start the album and “song for the dumped” and “Battle of Who Could Care Less” keep that vibe alive throughout the album. Considering that there aren’t actually five people in this band (it’s a trio) and they don’t have a guitar player they really do a great job keeping it rocking. On the flipside tracks like “Missing the War” and “Smoke” are more mellow and down tempo. That said the real gem on this album was the hit “Brick”.
I remember buying Whatever and Ever Amen when I was in college. I’m not sure what drew me to the band but I did like the whole album if I remember correctly. One day my neighbor, one of Mrs. Hops’ roommates who we’ll refer to as “Spewin”, asked to borrow the album. I wasn’t sure why, but she seemed really interested. A few days later she still hadn’t returned my CD so I went to her room to find it. I found it spinning in the CD player on pause on the song “Brick” and she wasn’t even there. I asked Mrs. Hops and apparently she was just playing that tune over and over again. Little did I know “Brick” had become a hit for Ben Fold Five and shot the album (and band to a degree) out of obscurity. So what was the appeal of “Brick”? It’s a great song but not exactly one you would think would be a pop hit. Consider the lyrics:
6 am day after Christmas /I throw some clothes on in the dark / The smell of cold / Car seat is freezing / The world is sleeping and I am numb
Up the stairs to her apartment/ She is balled up on the couch / her mom and dad went down to Charlotte / They’re not home to find us out / And we drive / Now that I have found someone / I’m feeling more alone / Than I ever have before
She’s a brick and I’m drowning slowly / Off the coast and I’m headed nowhere / She’s a brick and I’m drowning slowly
They call her name at 7:30 / I pace around the parking lot / Then I walk down to buy her flowers / And sell some gifts that I got / Can't you see / It's not me you’re dying for now she’s feeling more alone / Than she ever has before
As weeks went by it showed that she was not fine / They told me son its time to tell the truth / And she broke down and I broke down / Cause I was tired of lying
Driving back to her apartment / For the moment were alone / She’s alone / And I’m alone / Now I know it
Now that doesn’t sound like a pop song to me? It's actually quite a depressing song. So what is it about? My guess is that the character in the song got his girlfriend pregnant and she had an abortion. They weren’t in love and weren’t good for each other. What do you think? Either way both this song and the album were better than I thought they would be.
Verdict: Worth the occasional dust-off.