Tuesday 22 Jul

Manmade Objects - Monuments

No one wants to be forgotten; everyone wants some sort of legacy, a mark they leave behind as they exit this life for whatever lies beyond.

And for as long as there has been death, there have been monuments — whether austere or understated, abstract or concrete, prominent or tucked away in private — erected by the ones they loved to assure that remembrance, at least for a time.
07/15/2014 | Comments 0

Admirals - Amidst the Blue

Sometimes it helps to not be very good.

Some of the best albums and artists were born out of happy accidents owed to varying degrees of early suckage — the perfect note or chord for a song found by missing the one you are aiming for, failed mimicry of an idol bearing something entirely new and great instead.

07/09/2014 | Comments 0

Kierston White - Don't Write Love Songs

The Tequila Songbirds have become just as beloved as about any group around these parts. And how could they not?

Featuring a revolving cast of the Sooner State’s most badass female performers, it’s a power hour of some of the best songwriting coming out of central Oklahoma. Sure, they might not technically be family, but they are clearly a band of sisters all the same, bonded by the same brand of whiskey running through their veins.

07/01/2014 | Comments 0

Depth & Current - Dysrhythmia

"Overproduced" is a term thrown around all too indiscreetly nowadays, usually applied when the thing that sticks out about a song or album is how it sounds rather than how it is constructed. Yet some of the most compelling albums ever crafted embodied a certain aesthetic that was just as skillfully and meticulously put together as any Bob Dylan or Miles Davis record — which is to say production is as crucial to our enjoyment of music as much as anything else; it's also the most overlooked.
06/24/2014 | Comments 0

Weak Knees - “IceBevo”

Indie rock has been in a good place as of late. Not caring about being cool is the new cool, and a couple of dudes on guitar, bass and drums can make catchy, earworm songs without being armed to the gills with computer software and vintage synthesizers.
06/17/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Music · Music · Ben there, sung that

Ben there, sung that

Both timeless and dated, Ben Folds marries his piano-man ballads and improv antics with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic.

Matt Carney November 2nd, 2011

Ben Folds with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic
8 p.m. Thursday
Civic Center Music Hall
201 N. Walker

“I think a good song is just unflinchingly correct,” Ben Folds said, simultaneously answering a question about the lasting success of his solo debut album, “Rockin’ the Suburbs,” and explaining his method of songwriting, a strategy that’s sold more than 3 million records to date. “That doesn’t mean it’s a masterpiece — it’s just that a valid, good song avoids two sentences that are jive, or something that’s falling over part of the music that’s not coherent. I feel like I’ve worked hard to do that.”

It’s been just over 10 years since “Rockin’ the Suburbs” came out, and more than 15 since Ben Folds Five’s eponymous, piano-punishing, alt-rock debut, and the now-45-year-old singer’s stuck by that philosophy every inch of the way. Frank and unpretentious, his songwriting ranges from plaintive and touching to sarcastic and even occasionally morbid, all told in stark, accessible language.

With time catching up to him, Folds isn’t too concerned about changing his game, or even about his old material seeming dated. In fact, he embraces the concept of music belonging to a certain time, so long as it’s supported by good songwriting.

“Things go in and out. I tried to date the production on (‘Rockin’ the Suburbs’),” he said. “I wanted that record to be exactly in that moment and for people 10 years later to go, ‘Oh, my God, that sounded like 2001.’”And yet, songs from the tender “The Luckiest” to the sarcastic, white-boy bravado of the album’s title track continue to capture the thoughts of people who are as young now as Folds was then. The stories might be accompanied by dusty lounge piano or twinkling, dated melodies, but they’re founded on the expression of sentiments that are universal among people who grew up in an environment where outward image more commonly supersedes what’s inside.

Folds’ dedication to songwriting even transcends genre and age, as he said that he’s “flattered” whenever people say they love his work as much as the victims of his more satirical songs and covers, the most recent being Ke$ha’s single “Sleazy,” which he released to help support tsunami-relief efforts in Japan last spring.

“Ke$ha’s a good songwriter. She’s writing in the language of this moment,” he said, appealing to Oklahoman Jimmy Webb’s book “TuneSmith” as a criterion. “She knows what the fuck she’s doing.”

Folds also said that the advancement of home-recording technology has furthered his art form, with others flooding the market with amateur tunes on a daily basis.

“I think that’s the sad, best truth about songwriting: that it really just needs to move along,” he said. “The technology allows you to move so quickly that it allows you to get your ideas out before they even have time to be edited, and I think there’s real value in that.”

Just like pop music, he’s always on to the next thing. For Folds, that’s his current symphony tour (he’ll play with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Thursday night at the Civic Center), which is supporting the release of his definitive, three-disc career retrospective, “The Best Imitation of Myself.” While in town, he’ll also teach a master’s class at ACM@UCO, thanks to the efforts of its CEO, Scott Booker.

“He’s doing a great thing,” Folds said of Booker. “I’m proud of those guys for getting that together. That’s the kind of thing I’ve always wanted to get together, and they’re actually doing it. Yay for them.”

Photo by Kim Tonelli

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