Ben Folds can’t exactly hit the road with Nick Hornby, his partner on the new “Lonely Avenue” album, but that doesn’t mean he can’t play their songs on his own.
“I feel like they all fit pretty well with what I do,” says Folds, 44, who wrote music for the album’s 11 tracks based on lyrics the Academy Award-winning screenwriter and author (“High Fidelity,” “About A Boy”) sent him. “I’ll sort of work most of the new songs that are on the record into the set. It’s all pretty natural.”
Folds first collaborated with Hornby on “That’s Me Trying,” a song for William Shatner’s 2004 album “Has Been,” which Folds produced. Then over dinner last year the two men hatched the plan for “Lonely Avenue” and their unusual working situation.
“With Nick’s words I look at them, and if it comes quickly we’ve got it. If it doesn’t come quickly, it means I’m not feeling it,” explains Folds, who received about 30 ideas from Hornby, including fictional stories and songs about or inspired by Doc Pomus and Levi Johnston, the father of Sarah Palin’s grandson. “The curve ball with Nick was this wasn’t a day I was going to live; when I opened up his lyrics, that’s someone else’s day. And I’m happy to create a melody to it, ’cause I wouldn’t have done so otherwise.
“I can make a melody to anything; I think a lot of people who are musicians have that gene. But normally I’m creating a melody to something I’m feeling about life in general, and in this case it’s what Nick is feeling or his thoughts.”
Ben Folds performs Saturday, Nov. 6, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Tickets are $47.20 and $39.50. Call 313-961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.
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