Ben Folds, Nick Hornby take trip down "Lonely Avenue"

Sun Sep 26, 2010 1:01pm EDT
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By Michael D. Ayers

NEW YORK (Reuters) - It may seem an unlikely pairing to fans of singer/songwriter Ben Folds and novelist Nick Hornby. But to them, collaborating on a new album due out this Tuesday seemed like a natural thing to do.

After Folds read a flattering essay written by British author Hornby regarding Folds' tune "Smoke" from his 1997 CD "Whatever and Ever Amen," the two developed a friendship based on mutual admiration.

" centered around the lyrics a lot, which he didn't realize I didn't write," Folds told Reuters. "I sent him a thank you note and told him I didn't write it, so we had a good laugh. That was the beginning of a real natural friendship."

The pair first tested their collaborative skills on actor William Shatner's 2004 album "Has Been," which Folds produced and worked as a co-writer on many of the songs.

"Nick jumped in and wrote one piece," Folds said. "It was such a successful collaboration, so effortless, I just thought we'd do this one day."

That "one day" comes this week with the release of "Lonely Avenue," an 11-song piano pop album. To write the songs, Hornby e-mailed lyrics to Folds, who created melodies and instrument arrangements, as well as singing the final versions.

"With Nick, they're his stories," Folds said. "I feel like I have two or three melodies a day that pop out of my head. But I didn't know what was going to happen before I opened the first e-mail with Nick's lyrics. I think Nick's wavering is ultimately pop, and mine is too."

In Hornby's novels such as "High Fidelity," "About a Boy" and "Juliet, Naked" his characters are typically those with neurotic tendencies in a pop culture world, and "Lonely Avenue" continues down that same path.   Continued...

<p>Singer Ben Folds performs during the Webby Awards in New York June 14, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>