While we were on our way into the St. Vincent show last Wednesday, an excited but exhausted Mrs. YHT asked me if I’d ever sat in the National’s balcony seats. (Subtext: We’re finding it more and more tempting to sit down at shows. This makes us feel old.) I told her I’d sat up there once, when Ben Kweller played the National in 2008.
Ben Kweller has always represented youth to me.
I wrote a little while back about the time my dad showed me a New Yorker article about Kweller’s old band Radish. Kweller and I were both teenagers then. And there’s something unmistakably childlike about certain On My Way lyrics.
Kweller was already a pro when On My Way was released (2004), and it’s such a smart album — so much more sophisticated than I realized at the time. There are all these clever transitions, notes, changes, and arrangement decisions… On My Way is definitely not the work of a child.
There’s a four-note run in “The Rules” that sounds like it was played on a Fisher-Price xylophone.
I feel like that xylophone run could be a cheeky response to his wunderkind status — something that likely (and ironically) gets old pretty damn fast once you’re saddled with it.
I could do this all day. Clearly Ben Kweller exists in some alternate dimension where (when?) time is chasing its own tail.