Eclectic Friday: Why “Lonely Avenue” is one of the most important collaborations of the last decade.

This week I’d like to discuss one of my favorite collaborations of 2010. The album is called Lonely Avenue. All of the lyrics are written by English novelist, Nick Hornby, and are set to original music by Ben Folds. The album also comes with a booklet containing lyrics and several short stories by Hornby.

Many of you may know Nick Hornby as the author of High Fidelity and About a Boy (which was also made into a film starring Hugh Grant). The lyrics, like Hornby’s novels, are both humorous and introspective. Many of the songs are about specific character studies; however, some of them seem to be more transcendental in nature.

The single “From Above,” which received a lot of play on our local NPR station, is based around the concept that people can go through their entire lives without finding true loves who may be walking right passed them. He argues that even though we might not ever find our true love, it isn’t as though we can’t find happiness of a kind. In the song he describes it as “just this vague notion that something was wrong. A naked absence, a phantom limb.” Lyrics such as these paired with the musical genius of Ben Folds create a record unlike anything I’ve ever heard.

In addition to Hornby’s lyrics, Ben Folds clearly spent a lot of time in the studio on this one. The music features heavy synthesizers, and full layers of sound. The song “Skaskia Hamilton” is a very good example. The song is roughly about the famous poet and has such humorous lines as “I’m gonna marry her and it’ll be idyllic! And my teacher just told me she’s dactylic!”

In short, this album is clever, funny and cool. I would recommended it to anyone who it to anyone who is a fan of good writing. I would also recommend it to anyone who loves great music.