Thursday, June 17, 2010

Either sadness or euphoria

Was it EVER cool to like Billy Joel? There was a guy I went to school with who was a massive Billy Joel fan in the 8th grade. He went ON AND ON about the An Innocent Man album - kind of like I would go on about a Madonna album (equally uncool at that point probably.)

I have always had a love/hate relationship with Joel - I appreciate his music probably more than I really enjoy a lot of it. I have the Greatest Hits Vol. 1 & 2 (who doesn't?) and the previously mentioned An Innocent Man, which is probably one of two Billy Joel studio albums that I think are good start to finish (the other is Glass Houses.) I know all the hits, but have a tendency to look down my nose at them a bit, as if they are too plebian for my tastes - I know, that's horrible and it's not like my musical tastes are anything to write home about. I also feel like the quality of his work suffered toward the end of his pop career - if I never hear "The River of Dreams" again, I'll be okay with that.

But Billy Joel has always been a bit of a round peg in a square hole for me. I just never quite knew what to do with him. It wasn't until a couple summers ago when I was listening to a guilty pleasures podcast of Wings for Wheels (featuring Popdose's Dave Lifton, Jason Hare and Jeff Giles) that I discovered what is probably now my favorite Billy Joel song - "Summer, Highland Falls." I had never even heard of it till that podcast, but I bought it immediately after hearing it on that podcast. The lyrics are bittersweet - something that always seems to hook me - and so wise. "We are always what our situations hand us/it's either sadness or euphoria."

So you can keep your "Piano Man" and "We Didn't Start The Fire." I'll keep this one.

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