My Top 1000 Songs #258: Mess
The original run of albums from the Ben Folds Five has a lot of songs that are just plain fun, making the more emotionally serious ones stand out. "Brick," of course, gets the most attention from that latter camp, and it's undeniably a great song (we'll get there on this list). But I've always had a soft spot for "Mess," off 1999's Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, the trio's final album before Folds went solo. It has a post-divorce vibe ("I know he's kind and true, I know that he is good to you; he'll never care for you more than I do"), a heartstring-pulling sense of loss and regret. But the lyrics are vague enough to leave room for personal interpretation, and something about the chorus always gets to me: "I don't believe in God, so I can't be saved. All alone, as I've learned to be, in this mess I have made."
It's also, musically, one of his prettiest songs, with a captivating melody and hypnotic production. The tune has an indefinable timelessness that still compels me to throw it onto playlists a quarter-century later.Live: