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Watching Ben Folds perform his songs on piano at the Tiny Desk, there seems to be a direct line between thought and expression, except perhaps when he stumbles or forgets a line or two. Folds has a knack for plainspoken, smartly crafted words that sometimes sting and always seem to speak the truth — like these words from "Phone In A Pool":
Seems what's been good for the music
Hasn't always been so good for the life
At the Tiny Desk, Folds opened with three sharp songs from his most recent album So There, a collaboration with six musicians who straddle the line between pop and classical music; they're known as the yMusic Ensemble. When he finished those tunes, he asked the crowd for requests, at which point he banged out two favorites on piano: "Emaline," which dates back to the '80s, and a foot-stomper from his second album with Ben Folds Five, "One Angry Dwarf And 200 Solemn Faces." It's a memorable performance recounting memorable moments from second grade and beyond, as simple and direct as its closing line: "Kiss my ass."
Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Walker, Niki Walker; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Walker, Julia Reihs; Photo: Jun Tsuboike/NPR.
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