“Brick” by Ben Folds Five (1997)

“Brick” gave many people (including me) the wrong first impression of Ben Folds Five. Having only been peripherally aware of the trio before they got their major label money, I was not aware of the humor that was such a big part of their lyrical sensibility (even on sadder songs like “Boxing”). “Brick” was so heartbreakingly earnest it was difficult to believe the group could jump from that directly to “give me my money back/I want my money back/You bitch” within one song on the same album!

As those familiar with “Brick” are aware, the song is specifically about Ben taking his girlfriend to have an abortion. It’s based on a true story, and writing a song like that (and admitting it’s based on fact) has got to be difficult. Then it becomes his biggest hit and he has to sing the fucker every night (I’ve seen him three times and he’s sung it each time.) That said, a) it’s probably more difficult for his ex-girlfriend who actually *had* the abortion to hear the song on the radio and b) I do not understand at all why fans treat it as a sing-along. Also, Ben’s vocals (aside from the bridge) sound more dispassionate on “Brick” than normal-an effect that I think works because an event like this sounds like something you would psychologically remove yourself from. Or at least I would.


“Breaking My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)” by Mint Condition (1991): The last great Minneapolis funk band entered the scene with this silky ballad. Not lascivious, but not bubblegum, it set a standard of mature lyricism that Stokley and his homies have been riding on for nearly three decades now.

“Breakout” by Swing Out Sister (1987): A breezy, jazzy, sophisti-pop gem from a group of Brits who looked like they were on their way to middle-management bank jobs.

“Breezin'” by George Benson (1976): Honestly, “Breezin'” is the only George Benson instrumental track to penetrate my brain. The fact that I am fairly averse to instrumental music but still love the shit out of this song should be enough to justify the five-star rating. But George’s guitar playing is so lyrical, the song might as well have words anyway.

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