The Gift Of Music: Ben Folds

In late 2003 through early 2004 Ben Folds churned out three EPs under the radar. Speed Graphic, Sunny 16 and Super D each contain five songs, mainly originals with a few covers mixed in.

ben here. i just finished an EP. it’s called “speed graphic”. it has 5 songs on it. it is available now and i’m currently working on finishing another EP called “sunny 16”, to be released in september. a third EP will be recorded (no name yet) for release in november. a trilogy of EP’s. a full length cd will come out at the beginning of the year, for those who don’t like EP’s. i have 24 hour access to a studio now, so i’m using it.

quietly releasing my music as EP’s allow me to get it out there as i finish it. with a minimum of hype. it’s for people who buy my music anyway. it won’t be sold in the big ass chains, because that puts the price up and starts the big ass machinery – press, radio etc. then i have to pose naked at the piano, and really, i’m not a piece of meat, you know. the music will be available at gigs, and online, and on vinyl in some smaller stores.

The only song off of these EPs to make it to his next album, Songs For Silverman, was “Give Judy My Notice” off of Speed Graphic. So most of these songs you can’t get anywhere else.

I’m a pretty big Ben Folds fan but I missed these. I heard “Rent A Cop” off of Super D through Pandora and thought it must have been a b-side. Nope, entirely separate EP, which also contains a cover of The Darkness’s “Get Your Hands Off Of My Woman” and Ray Charles’s “Them That Got”. “Rent A Cop” is a great little diddy about a mall security guard and funny as hell.

All three of these give a good musical transition from his first solo effort in Rockin’ The Suburbs to his latest album Songs for Silverman. And if you’re not a Ben Folds fan, well, please, try and listen to something other than “Brick”. 90% of folks I talk to that don’t like Ben Folds specifically name that song as why and, well, I can’t blame them. Overkill at its finest.

Another Ben Folds find I’ve made as of late comes off of the Rockin’ The Suburbs EP. About six years back I caught Ben Folds Five live at an Earth Day festival down here in Richmond. Guster played as well as did a very crappy band that took up what I guess was the second stage and played really horrible songs. Pre-Irish-rip-off Carbon Leaf. Ugh.

Anyway, during their set, BFF played a song about a gentleman who wanted cream of wheat and then went on this late night urban adventure. Great song. But I had no idea what the name was and went years without finding the tune.

About a year ago I was poking around the web for music and such and came across a site of rare Ben Folds songs. They’d offer a few at a time, sweet stuff. One was a song called “The Secret Life of Morgan Davis”. Jackpot.

So I give to you “Rent A Cop” and “The Secret Life Of Morgan Davis”. These are hardly representative of the full joy that is Ben Folds but it’s a start.

Long Tail Talk

Dave Rogers ruminates on last week’s Long Tail conversation and about how none of the Technorati folks have responded to his questions. He also takes on the Cluetrain Manifesto. Read the whole thing, its actually a good post if you’ve been following the topic (and links to previous posts to get you up to speed if you haven’t). One part in particular stood out to me, though:

Technorati, again, as near as I can tell, is held in positive regard, at least by the members of the “A-List.” I’ll leave it to the reader to decide if this was an act of inspired genius to create a list that simultaneously flatters the egos of the people most in a position to criticize the company, draws attention to itself, and exploits the attention-directing “authority” of high attention-earning webloggers (the A-List) to draw even more attention to itself. I’d say probably not, since it’s been done before; but it’s still a pretty effective way to garner attention and achieve a measure of insulation from criticism.

Which is a good (and very correct) observation.

Jason Come Lately

A Bloggers’ Bill Of Rights?

We, the inhabitants of the Blogosphere, do hereby proclaim that bloggers everywhere are entitled to the following basic rights:

FREEDOM TO BLOG.

FREEDOM FROM PERSECUTION AND RETALIATION BECAUSE OF OUR BLOGS:

1.) If an employer wishes to discipline an employee because of his/her blog, it must first establish clear-cut blogging policies and distribute these to all of its employees.
2.) Blogging employees shall be given warning before being disciplined because of their blogs.
3.) NO ONE shall be fired because of his/her blog, unless the employer can prove that the blogger did intentional damage to said employer through the blog.

Blogophobic companies, who violate the Bloggers’ Bill of Rights, will be blacklisted by millions of bloggers the world over.

Whatever happened to responsible blogging on the part of the blogger? I’m sorry, but most jobs I’ve had in the past have 1) required me to not discuss company politics or inner workings outside of the company as per a contract and 2) been “at will”, being Virginia and all. If I divulge company secrets, I’m a goner. And that’s fair, because I should know better. There are competitors out there that thrive off of this kind of information, and if I’m just going to give this stuff away then I shouldn’t expect any sort of job security. Whether or not they explicitly tell me not to share it. Common sense has to kick in at some point, folks.

A Blogging Code of Ethics?

The Conglomerate has some thoughts:

[I]f Gordon and I came up with a code of ethics (and surely we could come up with a better list than Mr. Cohen’s check sources/note conflicts/post corrections list), I don’t think that anything additional would happen to me if an unethical action of mine breached the code. Right now, if it came to light that W.R. Hambrecht was paying me to argue night and day about online IPO auctions (I wish), I think I would feel the heat whether or not I had a code conspicuously posted on my blog.

A code without a governing body to enforce it is useless. And I think you’d be hesitant to see any bloggers willing to submit themselves to a body should one be formed. It’d change what blogs are, commentary on news and events with some reporting, into straight forward news outlets of which we have many. When’s the last time a columnist was held to any real code of ethics for making outlandish comments? Does Ted Rall submit to a code of ethics? Sean Hannity?

Update: Though I do have to admit that the idea of creating a Blogs Code Authority stamp like the old Comic Code Authority one and slapping it on my site is running through my mind…

Lethem To Write Comics

Oh yeah:

For a literary critics’ darling, JONATHAN LETHEM spends a lot of time pondering guys in capes. His novel, The Fortress of Solitude, set in Brooklyn, N.Y., and various short stories include lovingly written passages on superheroes. Lethem is penning a Marvel comic, Omega the Unknown, due in 2006. “Marvel dared me to put my love on the line,” says the author, who is reviving a little-known character from the ’70s. Omega is “kind of a meta-superhero,” he says, a “bewildered visitor to the Planet Earth” with–yes–a cape. Next we’d like to finally see that Philip Roth pop-up book.

I coulda done without that last line there (because we all know that comics are just for kids, especially MAUS), but Lethem on anything is a must buy. A monthly fix for Lethem? I’m sold.

Man, I’m Glad This Opinion Is Limited

At least, I hope it is:

The greatest moral quandary of our day is whether we, as Americans, support the Iraqi insurgency. It’s an issue that has caused anti-war Leftists the same pangs of conscience that many felt 30 years ago in their opposition to the Vietnam War. The specter of disloyalty weighs heavily on all of us, even those who’ve never been inclined to wave flags or champion the notion of American “Exceptionalism”.

For myself, I can say without hesitation that I support the insurgency, and would do so even if my only 21 year old son was serving in Iraq. There’s simply no other morally acceptable option.

…we have to recognize that the disparate elements of Iraqi resistance, belittled in the media as the “insurgency”, are the legitimate expression of Iraqi self-determination.

We should be clear about our feelings about the war and the occupation. The disparate Iraqi resistance is the legitimate manifestation of a national liberation movement. Its success is imperative to the principles of national sovereignty and self-determination; ideals that are revered in the Declaration of Independence.

…..

Where to start. First, this is assuming that the insurgency is home brewed. And ignoring the fact that the majority of the Iraqi people have been trying to free themselves from Saddam’s regime for decades. The insurgency represents foreign powers and parts of the minority Sunnis that supported Saddam and don’t like the fact that the majority of the country will not determine its future.

It’s insane that ones hatred of American policy turns into a hatred of the attempts by untold hundreds of thousands (millions) to free themselves only to be slaughtered and buried in mass graves.

How to Make a Quick Buck

Come up with a gimick site that makes folks submit all the content for you and then turn it into a book. And then work on the sequal that deals with the response to your initial gimick.

Hopefully they follow through with their FAQ’s take on what to do with the profits:

What happens to the money from T-shirts, ads and donations?
We understand that we have to tread carefully in the waters of commerce, as this site is about message and not merchandise. Each of these measures was taken in order to cover expenses. After careful consideration, we also figure a T-shirt is a message.

In case you’re wondering if we’re profiteering, all our man-hours have been pro bono so far. If this ever takes up enough of our time that we deem it necessary to pay ourselves, we’ll do it by other means. However, so far, we are barely breaking even on costs. At the time of this writing, we are pushing 350GB/day down the wire. Should any income be left that does not go to our hosting providers (the inimitable and superlative Rackspace), it will be donated to charity.

We are planning to post a complete breakdown of income and expenses on the site, so any doubts left can be resolved. In case there is money to donate, we will investigate a list of charities for how they spend their money and what they stand for, and we’ll publish the list of those selected before we give.

And maybe they’ll work on a follow up and explain how much worse off the world really is now, six months after the re-election.