Jackson Cannery

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"Jackson Cannery"
Single by Ben Folds Five
Released August 8, 1995 (album)
1996 (single)
Recorded Chapel Hill, North Carolina
March 25, 1994 (single)
Wave Castle, Chapel Hill
February 1995 (album)
Genre Alternative rock
Length 3:23
Label Passenger/Caroline
D-Tox (original single)
Virgin (Japanese single)
Writer(s) Benjamin Scott Folds
Producer(s) Caleb Southern
Ben Folds Five singles chronology
"Jackson Cannery"
Ben Folds Five track listing
"Jackson Cannery"
Naked Baby Photos track listing
"Eddie Walker"
"Jackson Cannery" (Live)

"Jackson Cannery" is a song from Ben Folds Five's 1995 self-titled debut album.[1] It was written by Ben Folds.[2] Its original single version is the first song the band ever recorded.


The song is about moments in one's life where quitting appears to be the only option. As Folds explains:

Well, that's one of the images that hit me. It came from a guy who was riding the bus from college to work and he kind of was losing his shit at the time and he had the bus driver pull over and let him off and he ended up in Ireland trying to find U2. He's in and out of halfway homes and he's schizophrenic. What fascinated me was not that he was schizophrenic, but that at any point in your life, you can just quit. You can quit anything you want to. And I thought it was kind of dramatic, the idea of going, "Stop the bus." Everyone has to see you stop everything, and everybody has to stop with you and they let you off. I pulled the name Jackson from someone I knew who I thought worked too hard and the Cannery was a hosiery mill in North Carolina. So I just mixed the names up and I think the defining line in that song would be, "When seconds pass slowly and years go flying by." You know, just that every moment's a fucking drag and you look back and everything passed just in a second.[3]

The song originally appeared as the "A" side of a 7" vinyl single, released in 1994 by D-Tox Records. As Folds explains in a 1999 interview on Charlie Rose,[4] the band made this single rather than a demo. It was on the strength of this single that the band was signed to Caroline Records.

Additional versions[edit]

The original version of the song recorded for the 7" vinyl single differs from the final album version. This original version also appears on the 1998 compilation and rarities album Naked Baby Photos.[5]

A live version of the song appears on the second disc of the 1996 2-CD set single release of "Underground", released in the United Kingdom by Vital Distribution for Passenger/Caroline.[6] The version was recorded live on August 12, 1995 at Ziggy's in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, by John Alagia and Doug Derryberry. It was subsequently mixed by Alagia, Derryberry and John Altschiller at Bias Recording Studio in Springfield, Virginia; and mixed by Dave Glasser at Airshow in Springfield.

A live video version - set to a montage of footage filmed at Georgetown University's Gaston Hall in Washington, D.C.; Cabaret Metro in Chicago; and in Australia - appears on Spare Reels, a video packaged in a limited edition offering of the 1999 album The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner.[7][8] Spare Reels also appears, in its entirety, as an extra feature on the 2001 music concert DVD Ben Folds Five - The Complete Sessions at West 54th.[9]


7" vinyl single[edit]

Recorded by Caleb Southern on March 25, 1994 and released by D-Tox Records[10] in 1994. Only 500 copies of the single were pressed. This version of the song is different from the album cut.

  • Side A: Jackson Cannery – 4:01
  • Side B: Eddie Walker, This is Your Life – Length Unknown

Japanese single[edit]

A CD single of the album version of the song was released for promotion in Japan in 1995 by Virgin Records for Passenger/Caroline.[11]

Compilations and soundtracks[edit]

The song appears on the 1999 Beloved Recordings compilation release The Southern Edge, Volume 1,[12] which features tracks from Reverend Horton Heat, Better Than Ezra, Cake, and others.[13]




  1. ^ Amazon: Ben Folds Five
  2. ^ BMI Repertoire Listing
  3. ^ Schreiber, Ryan (March 1996). "Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only the Piano Player!". Turntable Online; reprinted at MichaelBluejay.com. Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  4. ^ Rose, Charlie (1999-06-29). "Episode 9127: Hosni Mubarak, Stephen Ambrose, Ben Folds (YouTube Video - Folds appears at 45:28)". Charlie Rose. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  5. ^ Amazon: Naked Baby Photos
  6. ^ Singles - The Unauthorized Discography of Ben Folds Five
  7. ^ Amazon: The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner
  8. ^ Amazon: The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner (Limited Edition Combo Pack - CD and Video)
  9. ^ Amazon: Ben Folds Five - The Complete Sessions at West 54th (DVD)
  10. ^ Singles - The Unauthorized Discography of Ben Folds Five
  11. ^ Promotional Singles - The Unauthorized Discography of Ben Folds Five
  12. ^ Amazon: The Southern Edge, Vol. 1
  13. ^ Compilation Appearances - The Unauthorized Discography of Ben Folds Five