June 13, 2020 — Ben Folds releases “2020”

Ben Folds’ song “2020”, was released in episode 12 of his weekly livestream “Saturday Apartment Requests” on June 13, 2020. It begins by reflecting on how much simpler life seemed on New Year’s Eve as 2019 slipped into 2020, and goes to provide an excellent summation of the sheer craziness and awfulness of the year 2020, and how many aspects of it hearkened back to earlier historical events, such as the global Influenza Pandemic that began in 1918, the Great Depression of the 1930’s, and the violence and racism that the Civil Rights Movement fought against throughout the 1960’s.

It is not a cheerful song.

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2020 — Ben Folds

December 31, 2019 — New Year’s Eve

It seemed an innocuous end to an innocuous year – or as innocuous as a year can be during the Trump Presidency – but as always, the tides of history were in motion beneath the surface. While most of the world partied to celebrate the end of a year and hope for a better new one, the Chinese government quietly informed the World Health Organization of an outbreak of a novel coronavirus in Wuhan…

…this would prove to be significant in the year to come.

NYE Fireworks at Surfers Paradise Beach, Australia, 2019, 03.jpg
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2020 — Ben Folds

September 11, 2001 — Ben Folds releases “Rockin’ the Suburbs”

Folds’ 2001 album “Rockin’ the Suburbs” was his first solo album since the dissolution of Ben Folds Five. It marked a progression for him to a more guitar-based sound, and despite its inauspicious release date, it remains one of his best selling albums. The title track was released as the first single from the album, and became his best selling song to date.

Just to clear up any confusion: the song “Rockin’ the Suburbs” mentions the release of a new cd, and in the clip, Folds brandishes a copy of his new album, also titled “Rockin’ the Suburbs”, which features the song of the same name. It’s all very recursive, and you’ll probably just get a headache if you think about it too much.

BenFoldsRockingtheSuburbs.jpg
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Rockin’ the Suburbs — Ben Folds

October 25, 1986 – Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet reaches #1 on the US album chart

Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet represents the high water mark of the Eighties hair metal craze. Bon Jovi were different from other hair metal bands, in that they didn’t costume or wear make up, and also because one of their hits (“Wanted Dead Or Alive”) was a country and western song. (Not that stopped it from being the best song on the album.)

The album spawned four singles, two of which (“Living On A Prayer” and “You Give Love A Bad Name”) reached number one on the US charts. The other two were both top 20 hits. Unfortunately for Bon Jovi, the album was lightning in a bottle, and they would never recapture the success they enjoyed with it, although John Bon Jovi’s solo hit, “Blaze Of Glory”, would be a top ten hit around the world.

Bon jovi slippery when wet.jpg
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Rockin’ the Suburbs — Ben Folds

February 29, 1984 — Michael Jackson’s Thriller is #1 on the US album chart

Michael Jackson’s Thriller was his sixth studio album, and is still his best known and best-selling. It dominated the US album charts in 1983 and 1984, spending most of the year at number one on the charts (and the rest at number 2). It also reached number one on the charts in Australia, Japan, Sweden, West Germany, New Zealand, Holland, Canada and the United Kingdom. Of the seven singles from the album, all were top ten hits, with two of them (“Beat It” and “Billie Jean”) reaching number one on the US singles charts.

The album went on to win 8 Grammy awards, which remains a record number, and in the year of its release, became the best-selling album in the history of the world – a title which it still holds. It is also responsible for making “Weird Al” Yankovic a star, thanks to the success of his parody of “Beat It” (“Eat It”), which was his best selling single until 2009.

February 8, 1968 — Police shoot black protestors in Orangeburg, South Carolina, killing three

About 200 protestors gathered outside a bowling alley in Orangeburg, South Carolina to demonstrate in favour of the civil rights movement and in opposition to the Vietnam War. After the demonstration moved on to the South Carolina State University campus, police intervened. Accounts of what happened next varied – the police have always claimed that they were returning fire after being fired upon, but no other witness to the events has ever corroborated this, and the majority stated that the police fired first, and so far as can be determined, the protestors were not carrying any firearms.

In the chaos that followed, three African-American teenagers – Samuel Ephesians Hammond Jr., Delano Herman Middleton, and Henry Ezekial Smith – were shot dead by police. At least 26 other protestors were injured. Although nine police officers faced charges as a result of the shooting, all were acquitted. On four occasions since 2003, the South Carolina state legislature has failed to hold a vote on whether to mount an official investigation into the killings.

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2020 — Ben Folds

December 10, 1930 — The Bank of the United States collapses

Although the effects of the Depression had been gaining momentum since Black Tuesday, on October 29, 1929, and several smaller banks had already fallen, the collapse of the Bank of the United States kicked things up a notch or two. The Bank, at that time the third largest bank in New York City (and twenty-eighth in the United States), sent shockwaves through the economy after a run on its savings began at its Bronx branch on December 10, 1930.

The panic that led to the run on the bank caused it to fail when it did (although it quite possibly would have collapsed even without this, although not until months or even years later) – and the collapse of the bank led to runs on other banks, which led to more collapses. The Great Depression deepened after 1930, and in many countries, did not end until the wartime economies of World War Two changed the playing field again.

March 4, 1918 — The earliest confirmed case of the Influenza Pandemic is recorded

Albert Gitchell, an army cook assigned to Camp Funston in Kansas, United States, is generally held to be the earliest known case of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic, although it is likely there were cases before his.] The local doctor Loring Miner of Haskell County (also in Kansas) alerted the US Public Health Service as early as January of 1918, but apparently little attention was paid. After Gitchell’s case, the virus spread rapidly throughout Camp Funston, with 522 cases reported in the nest two days, By 11 March 1918, the virus had reached as far as Queens in New York City.

Because America was fighting in World War I at this time, with the frequent movement of men and material between various camps and the battle front, the disease quickly spread from Camp Funston (which was a major training base). By April of 1918, influenza was an epidemic in the Midwest abd East Coast of the United States, as well as some French ports. It then quickly spread to the Western Front, and then to the rest of France, as well as Great Britain, Italy, and Spain. In May, it reached Wrocław and Odessa, far to the East. When the war ended, newly released prisoners of war and demobilizing military forces spread it to other nations – North Africa, India, and Japan reported cases in May, China in June and Australia in July.

Emergency hospital during Influenza epidemic, Camp Funston, Kansas - NCP 1603

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2020 — Ben Folds