Album: Whatever and Ever Amen (1997)


  • This song is about a breakup. It's about forgetting the past and moving on because the great events in your life will never happen again - you only get to live them once. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Justin - Pittsgrove, NJ
  • In 2002 British author Nick Hornby wrote Songbook, a collection of essays about songs and the particular emotional resonance they carry for him. This was one of tunes featured in his book, which centered very much on their lyrics. After Folds read Hornby's piece about "Smoke," he sent him a thank you note and added that he didn't write that particular song's lyrics. A friendship developed between the pair, which resulted in a collaborative album, 2010's, Lonely Avenue.

Comments: 9

  • Duane Yaiser from Freehold NjI was at the taping of Ben Folds Five "Sessions at West 54th Street", about 20 feet way from him strumming the strings of the piano and playing melodica with a hose attachment (for the reach while playing piano with the other hand) for this song. :-)
  • Calios from Perth, Australiaok people, i have the answer.
    "my oldest friend anna goodman writes the best letters [they met when they were 5 years old]. we were married at 20 years old and had no idea what the hell we were doing! we remained married for 5 years and i dont regret that all. this lyric was her rhyming letter to me after we split. i added the word 'smoke' for the chorus, but nothing else in her lyric. actually, 'selfless cold and composed' was my lyrical version of another letter she had written
    Thats basically a shortened message that he put in his "best imitation of myself: a retrospective" album... so thats his message about smoke to the fans... also the noise at the beginning, i believe he is running his hand or something else on the strings of the piano
  • Karl from Ingatestone, United KingdomI've got ordered the Whatever And Ever Amen LP from Ben Folds Five, and i never get bored of it. it's a classic
  • Meg from Virginia Beach, VaI've heard through the grapevine that the song has something to do with Henry David Thoreau, but I'm not sure how valid this interpretation is. I just thought I'd throw it out there on the off chance that someone might be able to add their own two bits.
  • Nick from Chattanooga, TnSmoke: "I co-wrote this song with someone else, so I couldn't want to speak for her, but what it means to me is that you can't escape from your memories on your past." -Ben Folds

    Completely contradictory to the explanation above. Its not about moving on at all. He spends 4:52 describing someone's feelings of a lost relationship which to me leads to the conclusion that trying to burn your past and forget about it is futile. Just by reading the lyrics one could fabricate hundreds of meanings with all sorts of modifications to their own life experiences.
  • Nick from Chattanooga, TnUnfortunately for an interested Ben Folds fan, these comments are extremely lacking in accuracy due to the insufficient comprehension of the song. The song smoke, for instance, demands more than 2 lines of explanation like the one above. It?s extremely vague and noticeably lacks any sort of imagination. Ben Folds has not written many songs that can be critiqued or interpreted in 2 lines. Furthermore, I don?t believe that he constricts his songs to one meaning, leaving the music?s ultimate definition up to the listener.

    Just wanted to leave this here for any fan who expected a more thorough discussion on the genius that is Ben Folds.
  • Bill from Rocklan, MeIt's called a melodica.
  • Danny from Austin, Txin "the complete sessions at west 54th" DVD it is played on a kinda woodwind piano thing in the recording i think it is an accordian
  • Seth from Thornhill, CanadaDoes anyone know what instrument that is playing atop as the lead part?
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