is not a tale of musical debauchery, it’s not a glam account of how cool it is to be in a band, or how perfect the man Ben Folds is. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s a very humble and honest account of a lifelong journey in music and how he wouldn’t stop at the expense of anything, including himself, to achieve his musical dreams.
As a massive, sometimes delusional fan – I have put Ben on some sort of magical pedestal. This book doesn’t remove him from that pedestal, but it shows you that no matter who you are, where you are, how much cash or fame you have, everyone has to go to sleep alone, in their own heads, battling their own demons, dreams and doubts.
The book takes us through his early years learning his craft and finding his own sound and voice, from playing humiliating cover gigs at German restaurants complete in Lederhosen outfit, to forming Ben Folds Five, living on stinky tour buses, throwing chairs into audiences during weird anxiety attacks, singing the song “Rock This Bitch” to conservative audiences – twice in a row, to throwing a piano stool on David Letterman’s show, to 4 divorces, left on the pyre of his incessant need to keep moving, keep creating, and keep looking for those flickers of light.
Spotted with moments of real sadness and regret and an insight into the crazy mind of the lyricist who went against being cool, and sang about life as it is, real, gritty and sometimes painful. Ben speaks in a conversational tone that just slides through the pages, and shares a very personal side of himself. Even through the fame, Ben struggles to come to terms with it, still like that awkward kid in music school trying to find his place to fit in.
The book ends with some poignant advice about life, chasing the dream, trying to stay relevant in a world where you are growing older, (“It’s a legitimate worry for an aging rocker that your music will become so out of date and toxically uncool, it will get your kids beaten up at school. But, hey, it’s your job.)” and about finding and holding onto the things that interest you, the things that make you creative, the lightning bugs that lead your way. Thanks Ben, Ive flown half way round the world to see you live on a stage in the California winelands, and yet now feel closer to you than I have before.
“So then, what flickers do YOU see? What beauty glows for you that might have gone unnoticed by others? remain just innocent enough to keep dreaming. There’s always some motherfucker who would like to fact check your dreams and convince you there are no flickers, only the script. Too often, that motherfucking fact checker is you. It’s your own voice, whispering to yourself and to others that you’re crazy for seeing glowing insects. And maybe you are. Until you bottle and share them”
Review by – Joanne Olivier – “Certified Folds Fan”