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Ben Sollee on World Cafe | March 26, 2013

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There's not much about Ben Sollee's career that could be described as conventional. The singer-songwriter's primary instrument is the cello, and his work ranges from traditional classical music to Asian folk tunes. Even his preferred method of transportation on tour deviates from the norm; he's been known to travel from one show to the next on a bicycle with his cello strapped to the back.

Sollee is classically trained — and has played in settings more typical of a cellist — but he's also collaborated with My Morning Jacket and Béla Fleck. His experience working within different genres has had a huge influence on his songwriting process, even affecting the techniques he uses while playing his instrument.

"For the longest time, I felt like I was inventing new ways to play the cello to service the songs," he tells World Café host David Dye. "And then, once I really got down to it, I'm doing the same thing with the cello that, you know, composers have been doing for years — they always use the instrument as a pivot point."

Appearing here with a full backing band, Sollee plays songs from his latest album, Half Made Man. It's Sollee's first self-produced record, and he says that — thanks to a helpful suggestion from friend and collaborator Jim James of My Morning Jacket — he deliberately tried to record it with a more live sound, shying away from the meticulous orchestration of his previous efforts. (Link)

This World Cafe session was originally published on January 2, 2013.

Tracklisting
(( )) for interlude music

Van Morrison “Queen Of The Slipstream” The Best Of Van Morrison

Death Cab For Cutie “The New Year” Transatlanticism

Villagers “Nothing Arrives” Awayland

Slaid Cleaves “One Good Year” Broke Down

The Lumineers “Stubborn Love” The Lumineers

((Ben Sollee “A Change Is Gonna Come” Learning To Bend))

Ben Sollee “Unfinished” Recorded Live For The World Cafe

Ben Sollee “Diy” Recorded Live For The World Cafe

Ben Sollee “The Healer” Recorded Live For The World Cafe

((Ben Sollee “Unfinished” Recorded Live For The World Cafe))

The Shins “Simple Song” Port Of Morrow

Elliot Smith “Waltz #2” Xo

The Fresh & Onlys “Long Slow Dance” Long Slow Dance

((U2 “Bullet The Blue Sky” Rattle And Hum))

Django Django “Wor” Recorded Live On The World Cafe

Thao And The Get Down Stay Down “Holy Roller” We The Common

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Grafitti “Bright Lit Blue Skies” Before Today

Foxygen “Shuggie” We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Music

Jack White “Sixteen Saltines” Blunderbuss

Black Keys “Ten Cent Pistol” Brothers

((Supergrass “Mary” Supergrass Is Ten))

Leagues “Spotlight” You Belong Here

Old 97’s “Jagged” Fight Songs

Beach House “Myth” Bloom

((Chuck Prophet “Freckle Song” Recorded Live For The World Cafe))

The Wallflowers “Misfits And Lovers” Glad All Over

Los Lobos “Set Me Free (Rosa Lee)” By The Light Of The Moon

Shivaree “Goodnight Moon” I Oughta Give You A Shot In The Head For Making Me Live In This Dump

Arcade Fire “No Cars Go” Neon Bible

Phosphorescent “Song For Zula” Muchacho