So in this series I’ve covered bands/artists who may not gel for some folks. This leaves me with explaining the artist whose music has always driven me nuts and whose fame and fandom I’ve never really understood.
I have to be careful here…..even gentle perhaps. You see, my friend Samantha may be the only person on Earth who reads my blog with any sense of regularity, and this particular artist may be her all-time favorite. I fully realize I run the risk of pissing off the only regular reader I’m aware of. Well my friends, risk is a part of life, or in this case…..blogging!
I’m referring to, of course, none other than Mr. William Martin Joel.
image credit: ultimateclassicrock.com
I admit Billy and I got off to a rough start. Bill’s first album I was exposed to was his 1983 offering, An Innocent Man. I suppose one might call it a concept album of sorts. The songs were original creations, but written as homages to music genres Billy enjoyed in the ’50’s and ’60’s. In other words, Doo-wop style shit. Well, I was eight years old. My big brothers were blasting things like Def Leppard and Van Halen in the house. What do you imagine seemed more cool to a young male kid? Eddie Van Halen shredding away on electric guitar, or Billy Joel and a handful of stiffs in suits doo-wopping to The Longest Time or worse yet, freakin’ Uptown Girl?
image credit: sunny107.9.com
The worst part about it is these songs are still in constant rotation on our local “classic rock” radio stations to this day. I mean, I don’t listen to a lot of terrestrial radio anymore, but I’m telling you….you won’t go one day without being subjected to that damn Uptown Girl!
image credit: smoothradio.com
I mean really……is anyone mistaking this guy’s stuff for classic “rock”? I know Billy tells us “It’s Still Rock & Roll” to him. Bill…..go back and watch yourself singing into a wrench in a faux garage. That ain’t rock buddy.
Love for artists can certainly be territorial. There’s no disputing what Billy Joel, a born and raised New Yorker, means to other New Yorkers. He’s their son. They love him. I get it. Living in South Bend, though I wouldn’t call it a ‘college town,’ we are certainly influenced to some degree by our local university, Notre Dame. Many ND students are kids from the East Coast. For years there’s been a tradition at the local legendary watering hole, The Linebacker Lounge, where Friday and Saturday nights are closed out with a playing of “Piano Man” on the jukebox. The students all join arm and arm on the dance floor and sing along. I never understood it. If you ask me, the real Piano Man is Sir Elton John, but I digress. These kids grew up in an environment where their parents played Billy’s music, and the sins of the parents were passed down to their descendants. Just kidding!
There is one aspect of Billy Joel’s life I always admired.
image credit: biography.com
Christie Brinkley. How the hell did Bill ever pull that off? You must understand….to men of a certain age (hint: me) Christie was the gold standard. The woman of every young-blooded boy’s dreams in the 1980’s. For goodness sake, she’s still gorgeous in her mid-60s!
I never understood it. I mean, she would have made a better pair with Clark Griswold in “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” At least Chevy Chase was tall enough for her! But to Billy’s credit, he landed the most beautiful woman on the planet back in the day. He was obviously her Piano Man.
Bottom line, I think God’s greatest gift to us all is life itself. But a close second may be music. The beauty of music is we love what we love. It’s not the same for every person, nor should it be. Sure, my countenance immediately shifts to the “I just smelled a bad fart” face every time a Billy Joel song comes on the radio, but for others….it’s pure joy. I may not get Billy Joel, but I get that. So you go Mr. New York. Keep selling out Madison Square Garden every month and giving those Big Apple folks what they love.
Thanks for reading,