Ben Folds - The Best Imitation Of Myself

According to Ben Folds superfan Scott Lapatine, Ben Folds Five only played their Robert Sledge-penned song “Tell Me What I Did” live once: At Scranton University in April 2000. (Do not ask me how he knows this.) (UPDATE: It was played a few times, actually.) This did not stop Folds from reconvening his old band in June to record a new version of the song for his forthcoming career-spanning collection The Best Imitation Of Myself: A Retrospective, out 10/11 on Sony Legacy and available as both a single CD and a triple-disc set. (Two more new songs, “House” and “”Stumblin’ Home Winter Blues,” also appear on the comp.) Listen to “Tell Me What I Did” and check out the tracklist below.

CD1: The Best Imitation Of Myself
01 “Brick (Radio Mix)” (with Ben Folds Five)
02 “Annie Waits”
03 “Philosophy” (with Ben Folds Five)
04 “Underground” (with Ben Folds Five)
05 “Landed (Strings Version)”
06 “One Angry Dwarf And 200 Solemn Faces” (with Ben Folds Five)
07 “Don’t Change Your Plans” (with Ben Folds Five)
08 “The Luckiest”
09 “Smoke” (with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra)
10 “Rockin’ The Suburbs”
11 “Kate” (with Ben Folds Five)
12 “Gracie”
13 “Still Fighting It (Extended Version)”
14 “You Don’t Know Me” (feat. Regina Spektor)
15 “There’s Always Someone Cooler Than You”
16 “Still”
17 “From Above” (with lyrics by Nick Hornby)
18 “House” (with Ben Folds Five)

CD2: Live (1997 – 2011)
01 “Julianne” (with Ben Folds Five)
02 “Video” (with Ben Folds Five)
03 “Song For The Dumped” (with Ben Folds Five)
04 “Missing The War” (with Ben Folds Five)
05 “Mess” (with Ben Folds Five)
06 “Magic” (with Ben Folds Five)
07 “Selfless, Cold And Composed”
08 “Zak and Sara”
09 “Girl”
10 “Just Pretend” (with the Bens)
11 “Fred Jones Part 2″ (with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra)
12 “Careless Whisper” (feat. Rufus Wainwright)
13 “All U Can Eat”
14 “Long Tall Texan”
15 “Army” (with Ben Folds Five)
16 “Battle Of Who Could Care Less” (with Ben Folds Five)
17 “Kylie From Connecticut”
18 “Effington”
19 “Picture Window”
20 “Sentimental Guy”
21 “Not The Same”

CD3: Rarities (1991 – 2011)
01 “Unrelated”
02 “Best Imitation Of Myself”
03 “Rocky”
04 “Boxing”
05 “Julianne” (with Ben Folds Five)
06 “Evaporated” (with Ben Folds Five)
07 “Alice Childress”
08 “Barrytown” (with Ben Folds Five)
09 “Amelia Bright” (with Ben Folds Five)
10 “Tell Me What I Did” (with Ben Folds Five)
11 “Rock Star”
12 “Losing Lisa”
13 “Break Up At Food Court”
14 “Wandering”
15 “Hiro’s Song”
16 “The Secret Life Of Morgan Davis (Alternate Mix)”
17 “Such Great Heights (Alternate Mix”
18 “Bitches Ain’t Shit”
19 “Time (Alternate Version)”
20 “Sleazy”
21 “Because The Origami” (with 8in8)
22 “Stumblin’ Home Winter Blues” (with Ben Folds Five)

Comments (20)
  1. I like this one a lot better than House. Actually sounds like a Five song.

  2. I don’t know for sure that they only played it live once, but we can pretend.

  3. It was played a few times on that final tour, but there’s one date which was bootlegged and widely circulated (there are actually two live recordings that I’m aware of).

    This was one of three songs which was meant to be part of their final album before the band quit after tracking a few tunes in the studio. This tune was written by Robert Sledge (here’s a video of him performing it with his post BF5 band International Orange:

    The other tracks, “Amelia Bright” and “The Secret Life of Morgan Davis” were recorded and released by Darren Jessee’s musical alter ego Hotel Lights and Folds as a b-side in 2001 as part of the “Rockin’ the Suburbs” release cycle.

  4. This is a Robert Sledge song. It was performed regularly by his post-BF5 band, International Orange, and is on their EP, “Spoon Box”.

  5. Oops. Just realized that Justin said basically the same thing as me earlier.

  6. amazing. I love Ben Folds.

  7. Interesting, this one originally had Robert on vocals when they were playing it live – even as BFF. Got the impression that this is how it was recorded originally too when they started work on that album. Wonder how Ben came to be lead vocalist on it?

    Also, can’t tell if those “ahhhs” are Robert and Darren’s or Ben’s layered. But I agree with the others – this sounds a lot more like BFF than House did. Either way, I love these guys together.

  8. This is a great song. I will of course buy the 3CD collection, but am way more excited about the new *Five* album.

    Keep it up Ben :)

  9. I interviewed Ben when he came to Jakarta last May. I asked about the possibility of getting Ben Folds Five back together, and he said they actually did get back in the studio last year to try write a new album, but it didn’t work out. They just couldn’t rediscover that chemistry when it came to writing new stuff, but playing the old material was fine.

    At the time of the interview he was already working on the retrospective but didn’t know what new material would be on there, but it wouldn’t be with Ben Folds Five as they hadn’t got to that stage before pulling the plug. Fast forward to early July, when Ben tweets a photo of Darren and Robert in a bar, and now we have three newly-recorded Ben Folds Five songs. So it’s cool that they managed to give it another go, and who knows? Maybe it’ll open the door for more new music and even touring down the line.

  10. Love this song. Robert singing this was a highlight of the Messner tour for me. I always thought Robert and Darren should have had the chance to sing more.

  11. Went to the reunion show in 2008. Pretty exciting, tho the rarities disc is questionable…not sure how some of those qualify as rare.

  12. This is unreal.

  13. Backing vox sounds like multi-tracked Ben, not Darren and Robert. Am I wrong? The later Ben Folds-era flourishes are a little off putting, but either way it’s so good to have these guys back.

  14. The synth is definitely a more Ben Folds solo sound, but I think its still a lot more like a BFF song than House. I really like it.

    • Not completely true my friend. Darren was using a lot more synth and Moog during the Reinhold Messner years right before they broke up.

  15. Is Ben Folds’ real last name ‘Carvey?’

  16. did anyone leave a link to the performance from 2000? I found an mp3 of it:

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