Cigarettes Will Kill You (1998) – Ben Lee

Today we backtrack a little bit in the music library project since I had forgotten to download the following song to my collection. What entails the ‘Music Library Project’?
Ben Lee’s Cigarettes Will Kill You is one of my favourite Australian tracks from the 1990s. I never grow tired of hearing this great Alternative music tune. I especially like the rhythm and the simple piano loop of four chords. Cigarettes Will Kill You is a single by Australian singer-songwriter Ben Lee, from his 1998 album Breathing Tornados. It was voted number 2 on the 1998 Triple J Hottest 100.

And I want a TV embrace
And I, I’m getting off your boiling plate
They swore you’d steal my steam
To feed your dream
And then be gone
I wish I could say that everyone was wrong

At a concert in New York in 2006 Lee described how he came up with the title – Cigarettes Will Kill You. He was so impressed with title of the Verve’s The Drugs Don’t Work that he decided to name his own song with a similarly catchy title. The cigarette smoking is used as a metaphor for continuing to go back to a bad relationship even though everyone knows it will end terribly and cause pain.

According to wikipedia: “I want a TV embrace” was a mondegreen based on a misheard Fiona Apple lyric. In Apple’s song, Criminal, Lee had thought Apple had sung “This mind this body and this voice cannot be stifled by your TV embrace” – the real lyric being “This mind this body and this voice cannot be stifled by your deviant ways”. It was years later Lee realised his mistake but still used the lyric anyway.

Apart from being a singer-songwriter Ben Lee is also an actor. He appeared as the protagonist in the Australian film The Rage in Placid Lake (2003). He has released eleven solo studio albums and won many ARIA and APRA awards for music in the years which followed the release of Breathing Tornados. He is one of those artists I would have liked to followed more closely if I found the time.
Lee was born in Sydney and was raised in a Jewish household, but did not consider himself religious as a child. Lee dated Claire Danes for several years but their relationship ended in 2003, and he later married actress Ione Skye on 28 December 2008, in a Hindu wedding ceremony in India.

1. Wikipedia – Ben Lee

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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