The Fiery Furnaces - Benton Harbor Blues

Artist: The Fiery Furnaces

Song: Benton Harbor Blues

Album: Bitter Tea (2006)


The Fiery Furnaces are a U.S. indie rock band formed in Brooklyn, New York, in 2000. The band's primary members are Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger.

Bitter Tea contains several instances of backmasking throughout. The backmasked parts in “Benton Harbor Blues” – single only available as a digital download - are gibberish phrases played backward and forward simultaneously, so it sounds the same when played backwards and forwards.

"Benton Harbor Blues", particular in its second mix, which omits a meandering two-minute intro, shows how effortlessly Matt Friedberger can come up with a simple, breezy, and likeable pop tune when so inclined. If Fiery Furnaces wanted a shortcut to a larger audience, this track points the way.

(…) "Benton Harbor Blues" is nearly as good, successfully branching out to a Motown groove - and its uncluttered remix at disc's end further ups the ante, providing a clarity approaching the amazing Single Again EP  (…).

"Benton Harbor Blues" comes in two versions here: the difficult version with weird noises and sonic digressions taking you away from the major-key melody. (Major key? Yes, for once). Then there's the three-minute pop radio version of it at the end. Believe it or not, this latter version of the song wouldn't even sound all that out of place on your local Adult Contemporary station. (Shudder? Not really). With "Benton Harbor Blues" it seems the FF's are grabbing their legacy. Eleanor sounds somewhat sentimental and troubled like Karen Carpenter. (As she often does, actually: "As I try to fill all of my empty days,/ I stumble round on through my memory's maze:/ of all my past, only the sadness stays"). There are often nostalgic lines like this in FF songs, but they are hardly ever backed by this kind of mellow groove, as they are on the last version.





As I try to fill all of my empty days,
I stumble round on through my memory's maze;
of all my past, only the sadness stays.

I went moping down by the bridge;
I rode a bike in the snow to the mini-mart;
I thought of the ways that I've broke my own heart.

It's not for me to fill the blue sea with tears,
but when I think back on all the wasted years
all the good cheer and all the charm disappears.

I wore the exact same clothes for five days;
the bailbondsman gave me a smile;
I was thinking of only my sins all the while.

As I try to fill all of my empty days,
I stumble round on through my memory's maze;
of all my past, only the sadness stays

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