Rock This Bitch

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"Rock This Bitch"
Song by Ben Folds from the album Ben Folds Live
Released October 8, 2002
Recorded March 2 - July 6, 2002
Genre Piano rock
Length 1:17
Label Sony
Writer Ben Folds
Producer Marc Chevalier,
Ben Folds
Ben Folds Live track listing
"Tiny Dancer"
(13)
"Rock This Bitch"
(14)
"Philosophy"
(15)

"Rock This Bitch" is a series of improvisational songs that have been performed live by the pianist Ben Folds.

History[edit]

The song originated from a show at the Vic Theatre, Chicago on 3 October 2001 when a fan shouted "Rock This Bitch!" at Folds, who then proceeded to improvise a song; "I'll tell you what I'm gonna do, I'm gonna rock this bitch". This song became well-known amongst fans after "Rock This Bitch" was released on the 2002 live album Ben Folds Live and fans began to request it at every show.

Over the years, a large number of different versions of this song have been performed covering a whole array of musical styles. The joke eventually wore out on Folds, and he temporarily retired the song after performing it with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra in Perth, as seen on the Ben Folds and WASO live DVD (December 2005). Because of the nature of the performance, Folds had to shout out the chord changes during the song, leaving the orchestra members somewhat confused, although several musicians provided improvised solos.

Since reforming Ben Folds Five, Folds has continued to play the song live with the band.

Semi-retirement[edit]

In early 2006, Folds stated that he was tired of playing "Rock This Bitch" and ignored requests for some time. At a concert in Milwaukee on March 12, 2006, he declined to "rock this bitch" and instead played a humorously vulgar improvisation of Billy Joel's song "Piano Man".

In his performance with the Sydney Symphony in the Sydney Opera House on September 7, 2006, Folds compared the recently deceased Steve Irwin to nature photographer Ansel Adams, and agreed to play "Rock This Bitch" in tribute to him.

"Rock This Bitch" has made occasional appearances during shows since, sometimes without prompting.

Notable versions[edit]

At a show in Cologne on February 6, 2007, Ben played a version which included the story of astronaut Lisa Nowak, who drove 900 miles in diapers to kidnap her rival for the affections of fellow astronaut William Oefelein. Subsequent versions have referenced current events of the time, including the death of Anna Nicole Smith. The story of Lisa Nowak was later referenced in the song "Cologne" on Folds' 2008 album Way to Normal.

One of his most distinctive versions of the song was played at the Rochester Institute of Technology, a college with a high percentage of students who are deaf or hard of hearing. As there is a sign language interpreter at nearly every event, Ben asked the interpreter on hand to repeatedly swear in sign language. It led to an all-silent rendition of the song, with the band miming out playing their instruments while the audience imitated the interpreter.

The song was again supposedly retired at Bonnaroo in 2008. However, on the bonus CD "I Made It Up On Stage" that accompanied the super-deluxe version of the 2008 release Way to Normal, several references to the song are included, with one of the improvised songs entitled "Rockit Digitally" which consists of a single-note electronic version of the song.

In May 2009, at a show in Seattle, WA, Folds improvised a song about his hometown after a fan shouted "Yeah, Chapel Hill!". Throughout the song, fans continued to request "Rock This Bitch", until he finally completely shifted the style of the song and went on to sing about all the places in the world he had "rocked this bitch".

On October 31, 2009, playing with the Minnesota Orchestra, Folds initially declined to play the song when it was requested because he and the Orchestra had "worked very hard", but then proceeded to play the song at the end of the show as Orchestra members were leaving the stage. It included many references to Halloween and the costumes of people in the crowd.

On February 13, 2010, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, fans shouted "Rock this bitch!" towards the end of the show and Folds went on to explain to the orchestra the basics of "Rock this Bitch". The Orchestra played for about 30 seconds before union rules required them to stop playing and leave the stage. Folds' song initially began talking about union rules and then switched over to a story about him and a friend climbing Mount Washington when they were bored.

On November 27, 2010, Folds and the Nashville Symphony played the entire song, with Folds instructing orchestra members on the parts on the spot.

On July 20, 2011, at the House of Blues in Anaheim, California, Folds improvised a song directed at an "apologetic heckler" at the back of the room, which segued into a version of "Rock This Bitch" that told a story of how William Shatner once took a limousine all the way down to Anaheim for dinner with Folds because he "liked the heirloom tomatoes", and how they then went to Disneyland, where all the attractions were closed, which "did not mean a fucking thing" to Shatner, who then used his fame to convince Disneyland to open all the rides for himself and Folds to enjoy.

On June 2, 2014, at Severance Hall in Cleveland, Ohio, Folds once again improvised a variation of the song, "Rock this Hall", with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra. With the orchestra, he improvised each orchestra section's part individually, building to a final crescendo and an audience participation shouting "Rock this Hall!"


External links[edit]