Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Brendan Kiefer
Ben Lee's been doing this a long time, thinking big humanity-pointed thoughts and bringing massive perceptions and foresight into his lovely, often quaint pop songs. He's been the child prodigy, the flame of Claire Danes, the puppy dog, and the wizened man, who's still no more than a youngster. He makes a case for old souls everywhere - the people you feel you can look into their eyes and see a crowded house, antiquated ideals and morals, white hair, wrinkles, a lifetime's worth of pets and heartbreak, experiences that only come with having lives a few times. A song, "We're All In This Together," from the 2005 album Awake Is The New Sleep, has been used considerably on a television commercial for Kohl's department store and its key line - the title of the song - is a simple revelation, but it's the overwhelming focus of most of Lee's charmingly sweet observations. He bodes well for general satisfaction and being at peace with the crud hands that might get dealt every so often, for things work out. Someone who's got the wisdom of decades at his fingertips - or at least in his eyes - would know these things. Here Lee, who is still supporting his latest album Ripe, reads a short story by Donald Barthelme, which involves a big balloon that most don't know what to do with. There's hostility and questioning involving the hot air balloon and there's much harrumphing and confusion regarding it. Favorite line could be: "As a single balloon must stand for a lifetime of thinking about balloons." And he reads...
*Ben Lee describes the text:*
"My friend Matthew gave me a copy of "unspeakable practices, unnatural acts", a collection of shorts by Donald Barthelme, when I was 18. It made a big impression on me. The mix of humour, philosophy and old-fashioned story telling was like nothing I had experienced before. The story "The Balloon" is my favourite. It serves as a metaphor for art, life, God, or whatever else you wish to imagine being described. It discusses the idea of subjectivity and personal perspective in a way that I find oddly touching. I love this story."
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