Nightly Song
Musings on Songs that Strike a Chord Tonight

Archive for the ‘Ben Kweller’ Category

Thirteen by Ben Kweller

June 10, 2010


Performed and written by Ben Kweller.
This mesmerizing love song rides near stream-of-conscious lyrics made striking by the piano and the quiet insistence of the vocal performance. Kweller defies normal song structure – there is no chorus; instead, he relies on three line verses bursting with images and thoughts and the piano’s rhythm to carry us forward. The effect is like closing one’s eyes and watching scenes from a relationship roll past. The lyrics speak of joy, the images spark images of a world opening up and made more vibrant by the relationship, yet the voice and piano convey a poignancy and sadness. Perhaps the tenderness arises from recognizing how fragile a relationship can be, perhaps from a period apart. It is the underling tension between the music and lyrics that make the song so affecting.

In an interview, Kweller has said the title comes from the date he married his long-time girlfriend, Liz Smith, and the song is peppered with references to their relationship (e.g., the necklace once worn by her mother, the phone calls on which they built the relationship, etc.). Yet the song remains accessible to all listeners.