Army (Song)

The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner
Released 1999
Genre Rock
Label 550
Writer(s) Ben Folds
Ben Folds Five singles chronology

"Song for the Dumped"
"Don't Change Your Plans"

"Army" is an alternative rock song by the band Ben Folds Five from their 1999 album The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, and reached #28 on the charts in the UK.

Track listing

CD single I

  1. "Army" – 3:25
  2. "Air" – 3:20
  3. "(Theme from) Dr Pyser" – 3:15

CD single II

  1. "Army" (clean version) – 3:25
  2. "Leather Jacket" – 3:20
  3. "Birds" – 3:15

Lyrics, composition, and popularity

The song is extremely popular among fans of the band and even during the band's break up, the song was still almost always performed at Ben Folds' solo concerts. The song deals with indecision, independence, conflict, and freedom, and contains many memorable moments, including the opening line ("Well I thought about the army, dad said 'Son, you're fucking high!'") and the bridge, which consists of a horn ensemble.

Folds has explained at live performances that the entire song is based on personal experiences, with a few exceptions (most notably that he never grew a mullet).

Here's Ben's explanation from a recording at Enmore:


The clean version is sometimes referred to as the "We Got the 'Fuck' Out edit".

Live performances

On the live album Ben Folds Live, Folds introduces the song to the audience by saying: "This one goes out to anyone who actually signed up and is in—is gone into the armed forces. Thanks a lot. I tried, I went down to the recruiting center and I talked to them, and I thought about it, but at the end of the day, I think I was genetically inclined to be a musician." He then goes on to instruct the audience in singing the horn parts: "We've got enough people in here to get a bitchin' horn section, so let's cut the audience down the middle. This side, saxophones, this side's trumpets." Later live audiences were split into "bitch and whore sections" by Ben, an auditory spin off of the phrase "bitchin' horn section" heard on Ben Folds Live. The ensemble parts are often performed by the crowds during concerts in an audience participation bit which Folds "conducts". In addition, the audience customarily sings the line, "God please spare me more rejection." Folds also frequently changes the last line from "the army" to "your mommy" or, on occasion, "all y'all's mommies".

In the DVD sessions at West 54th, in the Spare Reels footage, Ben Folds Five can be seen recording the song. The lyrics are slightly different, and the horn parts are either scat sung by Folds or omitted.

"Army" was performed by the Legally Prohibited Band as Conan O'Brien's introduction music on his Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour.

External links

  • Template:MetroLyrics song
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