I’m making a mix CD for a friend, and stumbled across the song “Effington” by Ben Folds. I bought his newest album a few months ago, but to be quite honest, wasn’t thrilled with it, lest a few songs. So it’s been on the back burner. But in searching for Happy Songs (the theme), I rediscovered this one.
I saw Ben Folds last May, and when he played this song, I got SO excited, because I knew where he was talking about. “That’s by my school!” I told my friends. “I know exactly what he’s talking about! They have a giant cross* and you can see the town from the highway, just like he says!”
Only…I got the album, and was confused/perplexed, because, the name of the town was Effingham, Illinois, not Effington. My confusion/perplexity arose once more this weekend, when I heard the song again. It IS on the way to Normal, Illinois…was my memory faulty? Was the town actually called Effington?
Well, a quick google search has answered my question. Mr. Folds fucked up. An excerpt from this interview clears everything up.
Tell me about the name of the album, “Way to Normal.”
It was just really three words taken out of context from one of the songs. There’s a place called Normal, IL. We played a show there and, on the way to Normal, the van passed through Effingham and I thought it was Effington. And I made a song up called “Effington”–so I f—ed the name up. The song sort of ended up being about the randomness of where you end up living. You could just go, “Oh yeah. I could pick that town and just live there,” as you’re driving down the highway, “or I could just keep going to Normal.” That’s really kind of what the title’s about.
After reading that, I felt so much better. You know how it is – you have something so clear in your mind, and when it’s challenged, it kind of throws you off balance.
Anyway, that’s not the point of this post. The point is, this song ROCKS so hard. It’s fun, and bouncy, and makes me happy. It reminds me of Illinois, and my college town, and brings back warm fuzzy memories of driving along Route 57, home for a break, back for a new semester, to and from Chicago… Ah, youth.
Everyone needs a song that reminds of them of the past and makes them feel younger, right?
In case you haven’t heard it, here’s a studio version of “Effington.” It’s good, but the CD version is (somehow) much more rockin. I did a lot of driving this weekend, with this song blaring in my car.
*FYI, the cross is pretty much the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. It’s HUGE, and when you’re driving back to school at 1 in the morning, on hour 12 of a 14 hour drive, seeing that cross lit on the highway is SO not the visual you need. In fact, it could cause you to almost drive off the road. Or think the apocoloypse has arrived and the world is in fact, ending. See?
SCARY! (Though you really have to see it in person to get the full effect.)