Posts Tagged ‘Billy Joel’

American Train - Hiro Yamagata, 1988

American Train – Hiro Yamagata, 1988

There’s a lot of hip guys in the world, but who can follow Billy Joel in America, you know what I mean? I don’t give a fuck who you are, I don’t give a fuck if you’re Sting or Bono– if you’re onstage in America, there’s a part of you that just hopes Billy Joel doesn’t walk in. I remember going to see Billy and Elton John in concert. I kind of wanted to see Elton a little more, and I came out of it thinking, Billy Joel is actually more American than Bruce Springsteen, you know what I mean? Bruce Springsteen’s a fucking Russian soldier compared to fucking Billy Joel, man…

Chris Rock, in an interview with Judd Apatow from Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy

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Press play & sing along.

Barack ObamaBeyoncé,
Matthew McConaughey,
Lena Dunham, Boko Haram,
Bill deBlasio

Polar Vortex, Richard Sherman,
True Detective, Immigration,
Pete Seeger, Derek Jeter,
Maya Angelou

Neil deGrasse Tyson,
Philip Seymour Hoffman,
Battle in the Ukraine,
and Malaysia’s missing plane

Colorado’s legal weed,
Daft Punk’s got a Grammy,
Malala Yousafzai,
Donald Sterling, goodbye!



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(Part 2 of an ongoing series)

The music of Billy Joel, from the elegant, good-time champagne to the nasty, molar-gunking candy corn, is practically embedded in my middle-class Long Island DNA.  So “A Matter Of Trust” would be the first but far from the last Billy Joel track I’d take to the end of the world.  I’m just adding this one to the playlist for now because I’ve been hooked on it recently, and I’ve been thinking:

  • The “1…2…a-1,2,3,4!” count-off is one of my favorite things in all of music.  It belongs in the Count-Off Hall Of Fame next to Wilson Pickett’s from “Land Of A Thousand Dances” and all of Dee Dee Ramone’s.  This count-off feels good and it says a lot.  Like Pickett’s, it’s sung rather than just spoken or shouted, which is excellent.  And more than just establishing the time and tempo, it announces, “Here’s some White Guy Soul that’s passionate but doesn’t try too hard.  It doesn’t exactly ‘rock’ but it’s sturdy and lively and even if it doesn’t make you want to dance it should at the very least get your heels tapping while you’re stuck in traffic in your Audi or waiting your turn by the pool table in your local blue collar bar.”
  • There’s no chorus in this song, only verses and bridges, even though it always sounds like it’s on the verge of exploding into a humongous chorus.  Yet it never sounds like it’s missing anything.  It’s incomplete, in a “pop” sense, but still immensely satisfying.
  • Lyrically, the song’s a peculiar mixture of harsh cynicism and sweet, desperate optimism.  The final verse sums it up: “Some love is just a lie of the heart/ the cold remains of what began with a passionate start…but that can’t happen to us…” It’s so witty and bleak and heartwarming and real it rivals many of the best Stephin Merritt lyrics.
  • I very much want to believe this video’s premise that “A Matter Of Trust” has the power to unite folks of all demographics simply with the magic of music, even in a crowded city on a hot day when everyone’s bound to be crankier than usual.  That basically “A Matter Of Trust” is the opposite of what Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power” was in Do The Right Thing.  Like if instead of smashing Radio Raheem’s boombox, if Sal had just popped in a tape of “A Matter Of Trust” into it, then there would have been a dance party instead of a riot.  So basically if I’m ever in a tense situation in my hypothetical post-apocalyptic wasteland, I’m hoping “A Matter Of Trust” can serve to defuse said tension.  After all it is all about holding on to hope in a sad world, but it’s not cloying or anything, and I find it hard to imagine many people could stay mad while this song comes on, unless they just plain hated Billy Joel, and while I can grant that Billy Joel has done his fair share of schlock I can’t abide anyone who dismisses him entirely and if someone did dismiss him entirely maybe that person’s a lost cause anyway.

Approx. 4 minutes; 7,986 minutes left on the iPod

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