In fall 95 I spent a weekend in Ft. Wayne, IN, playing at a regional bridge tournament with my friend Mark. On the way home that Sunday night, I caught a show on the radio featuring Ben Folds Five, a mix of interview and in-studio playing. I still remember three of the songs they played: “Underground,” “Philosophy,” and “Song for the Dumped.” The first two of those were featured on their debut disk; the third was recorded later for the follow-up. I was impressed enough to go out and get the disk, and it’s become one of my all-time favorites.
I remember back in college my friend Warren claiming that Making Movies by Dire Straits might be the greatest album of all-time by a trio; I’d think about making the case that Ben Folds Five (featuring only piano, bass, and drums) deserves to be in the conversation. It’s got melody and hooks galore (“Philosophy” includes an homage to “Rhapsody in Blue”), interesting off-beat topics (an interview between Howard Cosell and Muhammad Ali, the mosh pit scene at clubs), and maybe most of all, energy, confidence, and flair.
My top track on BFF is this one. It’s a witty take on the question of “who’s really behind that mask?”