I often find myself apologizing for liking Billy Joel.
Or I won’t even admit that I like him at all.
I’ll turn my back on Billy and jump in with the teasing about his songs being too loungy, too gauge your ears in with the closest sharp object. I’ll make fun of his over-elation of using gratuitous sound effects and his transparent storytelling tactics. Cast in a dark shadow of shame, I’ll sit there making fun of this musician I love more than broccoli but less than corn chowder soup. Lifting up away from my body, I look down at this insecure girl, afraid to confidentially say to the world, “Billy Joel is good. Billy Joel is great.”
Well, I’m tired of that girl. I kicked her off the scooter somewhere on Pretentious Ave. and am reclaiming the child that used to write the lyrics to ‘Captain Jack’ in marker on her vanity mirror and cry.
Out of the light rock FM closet I’m here to confirm a couple of statements:
-I love Billy Joel.
-I think Billy Joel’s music is as treasureful as Cadbury Eggs.
-I relate to Billy Joel’s music even though I’m a.) not male b.) did not grow up in Levittown during the 50’s.
-Billy Joel is an excellent musician that should be respected and not made fun of.
I didn’t grow up to listening to Billy Joel. I grew up listening to his doughy English counterpart Elton John. Elton John was my man. In fact, he was really my man. I thought we were going to get married. I thought that his soft, white English tummy and chest hair crammed into a sequined leotard was sexy. I did not like Billy Joel. I thought he was a lesser Elton John. He wasn’t sexy and he sang about real things like coal miners and trying to decide which bottle of wine to order at an Italian restaurant and not cool things like mohair suits and little tiny girls in people’s hands.
I don’t exactly remember the day that I started liking Billy Joel. It might have been that day in the department store when I was literally struck down by the lyrics to Billy Joel’s ode to his daughter ‘Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)’. I laid on the patterned carpet floor completely immobile from the severity of emotions that song brings, ‘Some day we’ll all be gone but lullabies go on and on, they never die that’s how you and I will be.’ That song is like an instant tear duct enema. Even just looking up the lyrics to that song right now caused my face to create a two second cry cringe on my face that I’m hoping no one in the office saw.
Or it might have been the day that I first heard the lyrics to Joel’s ‘Captain Jack’- a song I had zero relation to yet felt a kinship towards the masturbating, booger-picking Long Island junkie featured in the song. ‘Captain Jack’ captured, to me, everything that Bret Easton Ellis has strived for in his novels- minimalistic visual nihilism, apathy, and glam, ‘So you got everything, ah, but nothing’s cool. They just found your father in the swimming pool. And you guess you won’t be going back to school anymore.’ Sounds like East Austin.
Or maybe it was the day I finally listened to the lyrics of ‘Piano Man’ and clearly saw an image of my father, the piano player, sitting at his barroom piano being requested time and time and again to play this song by stoned businessmen, waitresses practicing politics, and real estate novelists and contemplating the meta of it all.
Or maybe it was the day my high school boyfriend secretly dedicated ‘She’s Always a Woman’ to me. Or the day I first heard the ‘ssss-choo-ha!’ of Joel’s Pennsylvania love letter ‘Allentown’ and thought, “Wow, now that’s annoyingly catchy!”. Or the day I realized that Joel was Long Island’s answer to Springsteen. Or the day I realized that Billy Joel is actually a damn fine song writer no matter how much he looks like the equivocal to a 1950’s Warner Brother’s cartoon of a rosy-nosed drunk.
This is what I’m going to do. I’m going to find myself a Billy Joel t-shirt and I’m going to wear it. And not in an ironic way. In a “I actually really really like Billy Joel in a non-ironic way” way. Then I’m going to tell everyone they should do the same. Then if Billy Joel goes the hipster wayside such as Michael McDonald or Hall & Oates have, I’m going to discard the t-shirt and wallow in my Billy Joel love all by myself!