Went to see Ben Folds last night at the Tabernacle in Atlanta. Ben, in case you've never heard of the dude, is part Bruce Hornsby, part Burt Bacharach: piano, drums and bass. Sparse, richly layered and beautifully lyrical.

Now if you're over 35, you probably remember flicking your bic lighter during concerts. Fellow Southerners are all thinking "Free Bird", but the phenomenon isn't limited to Southern Rock. I've seen the lighter thing at jazz concerts, but check this:

The 20-somethings were all waving their cellphones, the white-backlit LCDs lighting the place like fireflies. Seasons change, but the song remains the same, I suppose.

Anyway, back to Ben: If you've read the rest of my page, or know much about me, you can imagine how this tune went down:

We'd hit the bottom
I thought it was my fault
And in a way I guess it was
I'm just now finding out
What it was all about

We moved to the west coast
Away from everyone
She never told me that you called
Back when I was still
I was still in love

Til I opened my eyes and walked out the door
And the clouds came tumbling down
And it's bye-bye, goodbye I tried
And I twisted it wrong
Just to make it right
Had to leave myself behind
And I've been flying high all night
So come pick me up
I've landed

The daily dramas
She made from nothing
So nothing ever made them right
She liked to push me
And talk me back down
Til I believed I was the crazy one
And in a way
I guess I was

When I opened my eyes and walked out the door
And the clouds came tumbling down
And it's bye-bye, goodbye I tried
Treading the sea of her troubled mind
Had to leave myself behind
Singing bye-bye, goodbye I tried

If you wrote me off
I'd understand it
Cause I've been on
Some other planet
So come pick me up
I've landed

And you will be so
Happy to know
I've come alone
It's over

When I opened my eyes and walked out the door
And the clouds came tumbling down
And it's bye-bye, goodbye I tried
Down falls the rain on the telephone czar
It's ok to call
Now I'll answer for myself

Come pick me up
Come pick me up
I've landed


Hmm. A guy crashes a stalled relationship and finds solace in the peace of night flight. Now after all is said and done, his mind clear and ready to go back to the world, his new love picks him up at the airfield. He's landed. The line about the telephone czar is almost too much to believe, but there you go. The video should have green flight suits, kerosene, long kisses and purple irises in it, but I suspect it doesn't.

If you're a pilot this speaks volumes of words unknown and unknowable by those stuck on the ground. Once the engine sings out at full power and the ground falls away the world is, from that moment, forever changed. In solo night flight there is a freedom and a peace that has to be believed to be seen. Once you do though, and you become part of that silence, Ben makes all the more sense.

After the song was over I looked around to spot the other pilots: the guys trying hard not to tear up, and/or standing very, very close to the one they love. Yeah, that's my crew.

Alternately a dirge for a dying relationship and an anthem of renewal and growth, this is one tune that's got a permanent place on the 'Pod.

I'm off to Memphis tomorrow to finish up the interior work on Kerosene Dreams and I'm kinda suspecting a night flight back home in the jet. No good reason, just got some music to listen to.