30 years later and it still sounds awesome…
The other day i saw a live Billy Joel concert from 1978–a year after The Stranger was released. What a fucking good album that is. Billy Joel is the man. A premier songwriter, an honest man, but apparently an alcoholic. That’s okay though, it happens.
I’ve been listening to his Greatest Hits (from 1985) a lot this summer. He did a great job of capturing the time period. Hits off of An Innocent man were a tribute to songs of the 50s and 60s, the songs that probably inspired him when he was starting to play.
Of the many things I love about Billy Joel, near the top of the list is his crystal clear inspiration. Every song he writes is directed to someone, or something, about a very specific topic. It makes for something transcendent, in a sing-along-with-it-in-your-car kind of way. Reliable meter, reliable rhyme, i just love the way he tells stories. Watching him solo in that ’78 concert was damn impressive too, but no one needs me to to tell the world Billy Joel is a talented musician whose made tons of contributions to modern pop that can hopefully lift hearts and tell someone a little bit about what went on at one point in time.
This is what Joel said about John Mellancamp during the latter’s introduction to the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame:
“Don’t let this club membership change you, John. Stay ornery, stay mean. We need you to be pissed off, and restless, because no matter what they tell us – we know, this country is going to hell in a handcart. This country’s been hijacked. You know it and I know it. People are worried. People are scared, and people are angry. People need to hear a voice like yours that’s out there to echo the discontent that’s out there in the heartland. They need to hear stories about it. [Audience applauds] They need to hear stories about frustration, alienation and desperation. They need to know that somewhere out there somebody feels the way that they do, in the small towns and in the big cities. They need to hear it. And it doesn’t matter if they hear it on a jukebox, in the local gin mill, or in a goddamn truck commercial, because they ain’t gonna hear it on the radio anymore. They don’t care how they hear it, as long as they hear it good and loud and clear the way you’ve always been saying it all along. You’re right, John, this is still our country.”
i ❤ musicians.