A Dream About Lightning Bugs: A Life of Music and Cheap Lessons

Ballantine. Jul. 2019. 336p. photos. ISBN 9781984817273. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781984817280. MUSIC
The world may not need another memoir describing how a “male, middle-class, and white” musician made it in the record industry, but at least this one is written with the same charming self-awareness that Ben Folds brings to his music. In 1997, an earnest piano-based ballad about a teenage couple’s decision to get an abortion became an unlikely rock radio hit for Chapel Hill, NC, trio Ben Folds Five. Folds tells the story of the relationship that begat the song “Brick” and reveals other events that informed his particular brand of punk-inspired piano rock. Bespectacled music nerd Folds may not fit the mold of the stereotypical rock front man, but his determination to turn his musical obsession into a career is inspiring. Folds gives credit to those who helped him along the way, such as his hardworking parents and school music teachers.
VERDICT Folds’s memoir is much like his songwriting-straightforward, wickedly smart, and with a heavy dose of self-deprecating humor.

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