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A Dream About Lightning Bugs Ben Folds

Sometimes the weirdest dreams are the ones you remember. I had one such dream the other night that was both haunting and beautiful. A man who I think was named Alan walked into my old school (I’ve only ever seen a picture from the outside) and I ordered him to leave. He talked about bugs and celebrities and not going outside as if he knew me, but I didn’t know who he was. He sat with me for a while, telling me his crazy stories until some lightning bugs started to light up all around my room; they were crimson red and glowed like embers. They started floating towards the ceiling in a deep swarm. One touched me, right where I could feel it; on my shoulder blade, barely noticeable, at least at first. It felt nice, like a breeze or breath against my skin except for a small electric shock that made me jump just enough to knock the other bugs away.

Last night I had a dream. Lightning bugs the color of pearls were illuminating the sky above me. It wasn’t until about an hour later when I woke up that I was able to reflect upon what I had seen. As soon as I did my face lit up like one of the lightning bugs from my dream. One of my most vivid and memorable dreams ever.

A Dream About Lightning Bugs Ben Folds

memoir of sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll that’s long on wry humor and short on—well, sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll.

North Carolina–raised Folds describes himself, with a kind of literary crooked smile, as the sort of person who’s likely to be seen pacing around in his boxer shorts in his front yard, coffee cup in hand, working out the lyrics or melody to one of his songs. A master of the short story in song—see “Army” on the 1999 album The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner—Folds writes of growing up obsessed by music and bursting with creativity, which landed him in a psychologist’s office in a blue-collar South in which “ ‘artsy’ things would normally have been written off as being ‘for queers.’ ” A fierce advocate and ally was his mother, who, with his father, indulged him “as I terrorized the household with painfully long sessions of repeated phrases at the piano or snare drum.”

Clearly gifted, he enrolled in an alternative high school with patient music teachers. Later in the book, the author encourages his fellow musicians to take up the cause of music teachers “unless you really believe you learned nothing from them,” in which case, he gamely ventures, they should take up the cause of reforming anti-marijuana laws. There are nice notes throughout the text, including an early pledge to himself not to perform anyone’s songs but his own and the excitement of releasing his first album, which, he writes, might not be a masterpiece but still found his band, Ben Folds Five, giving their all: “From then on we would only do exactly what felt right.” What felt right led him to a kind of cult-classic status, to say nothing of friendships with the likes of Neil Gaiman and William Shatner, the latter of whom provides some entertaining anecdotes. Ultimately, Folds delivers an amiable and low-key memoir without the tawdry pyrotechnics of most rock biographies.

A Dream About Lightning Bugs Ben Folds

I was on a long road trip, driving late at night. I was tired and I wanted to sleep, but it was too dark out. So I kept driving.

After what seemed like hours, I saw the lights of a small town in the distance. It looked like something out of a movie: there were only about ten houses, all with bright porch lights on and small Christmas lights strung around their doors and windows. Each house had a mailbox at its front door with a name written on it in chalk. The town was so quaint and pretty that I felt compelled to stop there for a while before continuing my journey—I just wanted to sit on one of those porches, listen to some music, maybe eat some popcorn or something.

As soon as I got out of my car, I heard music coming from one of the houses nearby. It sounded like country music, but also kind of like jazz; there were horns and piano playing together in a way that made me feel like dancing even though I didn’t know how to dance very well at all (I am more of an arm-waver).

The lights were so bright

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