Alice Childress (song)
|Song by Ben Folds Five from the album Ben Folds Five|
|Released||August 8, 1995|
|Recorded||Wave Castle, Chapel Hill, North Carolina|
|Writer||Anna Harris Goodman|
|Ben Folds Five track listing|
"Alice Childress" is a song from Ben Folds Five's 1995 self-titled debut album. It was written by Ben Folds and Anna Goodman. The song is a look from a distance at the breakup of a couple who have fundamental differences in their outlooks on life.
Despite the name, the song has nothing to do with noted playwright and author Alice Childress.
While song lyricist Anna Goodman was working at a mental hospital, a patient named Alice Childress became agitated and threw mop water on her. Goodman, at the time Ben Folds' wife, was inspired to write the lyrics to a song as a parody of Folds' style. She decided to name both the song and the eponymous character after the mental patient.
Folds has referred to Goodman's lyrics as "bad Folds," a wink to the now-defunct "International Imitation Hemingway Competition" put on by Harry's Bar & Grill in Century City, California. The competition, commonly referred to as "Bad Hemingway", had participants submit "a really good page of really bad Hemingway."
Folds was moved by the parody lyrics to write music. He eventually replaced nearly all of Goodman's words "line by line" as the focus of the song became clear:
... and that was between a couple at a distance and why they're splitting up because they, like, constitutionally have different ideas about how the way life works ...
Because of her contributions to the song, Goodman retains a writing credit.
A live version of the song, recorded October 16, 1995, at the Santa Monica, California public radio station KCRW during the program Morning Becomes Eclectic, appears on the 1998 compilation and rarities album Naked Baby Photos.
An in-studio performance of the song was recorded for the 2005 download-only album iTunes Originals - Ben Folds.
The song has not been released as a single and does not appear in a studio or live version as an additional track on any other single release.
Compilations and soundtracks
The live version of the song appears on the 1997 album KCRW: Rare On Air, Vol. 3, put out by the Santa Monica public radio station on Mammoth Records. The album also includes songs by Cowboy Junkies, Fiona Apple, Guided By Voices, Stereolab, and others.
- Producer: Caleb Southern
- Mixing: Marc Becker
- BMI Repertoire Listing
- A Who's Who in Ben Folds Five Songs
- Ben Folds. iTunes Originals - Ben Folds. "Writing About Yourself Without Being Emotionally Lewd"
- Promotional Albums - The Unauthorized Discography of Ben Folds Five
- Compilation Appearances - The Unauthorized Discography of Ben Folds Five