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Album: Lonely Avenue (2010)

Songfacts®:

  • This is a track from Lonely Avenue, a collaboration album by American singer-songwriter Ben Folds and English novelist Nick Hornby. The record contains eleven songs featuring music by Folds, lyrics by Hornby and string arrangements by influential pop string arranger Paul Buckmaster (David Bowie, Elton John, Leonard Cohen).
  • The album, which Folds made specifically to be listened to on vinyl, was recorded on 2-inch tape. He explained to Billboard magazine that he chose the analog recording process simply due to digital burnout. "It's precisely nine years since I started working on Pro Tools," noted Folds, "but after the experience of the last record (2008's Way to Normal), I just asked myself, 'Digital recording, is that helping my records?', because it was not fun. If it's not fun and it's making them better, great. But it's not that fun, and I don't think it's improved (the records). So I'm coming back to analog simply because I really gave digital a full go and I appreciate it, but I like rewind time and I like making choices on the fly... and that's what you do when you're working with tape."
  • The idea for Lonely Avenue was conceived during a dinner conversation between the two friends one night in 2009. After that, Hornby began regularly emailing lyrics to Folds, who then wrote the music. Folds told Paste: "I kind of ran the gamut between being as simple as I've ever been, and sometimes having to go [Russian composer Dmitri] Shostakovich on some of them."
  • This touching ballad explores the conflicting emotions of a mother at her son's hospital bedside over New Year's Eve.
  • The pair's friendship developed after Folds read a flattering essay written by Hornby regarding Folds' tune, "Smoke," from his 1997 CD Whatever and Ever Amen. "It centered around the lyrics a lot, which he didn't realize I didn't write," Folds told Reuters. "I sent him a thank you note and told him I didn't write it, so we had a good laugh. That was the beginning of a real natural friendship."

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