Obsession of the week: Billy Joel

How have I gone so long without mentioning my favorite performer of all time? From the first moment I heard “Piano Man” (1977, in my mother’s car, riding down West End Ave. crossing over the 440 Interchange in my home town, Nashville, TN–do you think it made an impression?), Billy Joel has been my favorite musician for so many reasons. Now Sirius has turned Channel 118 (Limited Edition) into the Billy Joel Channel, which I assume it will remain until  it becomes the Christmas Music Channel after Halloween. Happy dance!

He is a true poet, and I am particularly moved by some of his songs that are not as well known to the average, “yeah, Billy Joel is pretty good” fan. One is “Summer, Highland Falls:”

They say that these are not the best of times
But they’re the only times I’ve ever known
And I believe there is a time for meditation
In cathedrals of our own

“Meditation in cathedrals of our own.” I think of that lyric so often as I go through my day and internalize the things that are happening in my life.

Another one is “Until the Night:”

When the sun goes down
And the day is over
When the last of the light has gone
As they pour into the street
I will be getting closer
As the cars turn their headlights on
As they’re closing it down
I’m gonna open it up
And while they’re going to sleep
We’ll just be starting to touch

Beautiful.

Here is “And So It Goes:”

In every heart there is a room
A sanctuary safe and strong
To heal the wounds from lovers past
Until a new one comes along

How does he do it?

Then there is his piano playing. Thanks to the Billy Joel Channel, I have been able to hear some of his commentary about his creation process. He speaks of adagios and arpeggios as easily as any classically trained pianist. He wanted this song to sound country, or that one to sound gospel, or another to be 50’s a capella. and he made it happenHis “This Night” off the Innocent Man album borrows directly from Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.

He is without question one of the greatest musicians of my generation, or for that matter, any generation. If you ever have any doubts, check out his Last Play at Shea. He is still great, he is still humble, and he still loves his fans.

4 thoughts on “Obsession of the week: Billy Joel

  1. I admit there are times in my life where I’ve had “Angry Young Man” playing at full blast. And I’ll always have memories of going to concerts with all my friends from our days at Emory….

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