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Subject: Billy Joel rss

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Christopher Yaure
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As an early birthday present, my wife is taking me to hear Billy Joel tonight. In anticipation, I have put together a list of my favorite Billy Joel songs:
1. Piano Man
2. We Didn't Start the Fire
3. It's Still Rock and Roll to Me
4. Allentown
5. The Ballad of Billy the Kid
6. Scenes from an Italian Restaurant
7. You're My Home (I love the line "Home can be the Pennsylvania Turnpike")
8. You May Be Right
9. Tell Her About It
10. Root Beer Rag

I believe Billy Joel was at his best when telling a story, and most of the songs on my list are stories of one type or another.

I love my wife!
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Billy McBoatface
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We had a thread about Billy Joel a while back.

I agree with #1, #6, #8. Maybe #9. Don't know #5, #7, or #10. "Italian Restaurant" is probably my #1 favorite of his songs. "We Didn't Start the Fire" is one of his few songs that I would much prefer to never hear again. To me it's just long and tedious, probably because I've heard it too much; I've heard Piano Man even more, but that one is good enough I don't seem to get tired of it.
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Jason Maynard
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My favorties are:

Don't Ask Me Why
It's Still Rock and Roll to Me
Big Shot
She's Always a Woman
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Brian A
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When I visited NYC earlier this year, I couldn't get the song Uptown Girl out of my head.
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Froggy McFrogface
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Summer: Highland Falls
Say Goodbye to Hollywood
New York State of Mind
Angry Young Man
Vienna

These are among my favorites.
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Huzonfirst
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Unlike many Joel fans, I much prefer his later stuff, starting with the Innocent Man album. I think his writing is much more mature and his lyrics are about things I can relate to, as opposed to being a young ruffian. I do love the Root Beer Rag, though.
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Jeff
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I want to come in here and throw stones, but since there was a long, dark period in my youth where Billy Joel was my favorite musician, and I probably still know all the words to every one of these godforsaken deep cuts, I guess I live in "Glass Houses."
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Fire Lord
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jmayDET wrote:
My favorties are:

Don't Ask Me Why
It's Still Rock and Roll to Me
Big Shot
She's Always a Woman
this
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Jeff
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OK, one stone: We Didn't Start the Fire is, if not the worst song ever written, definitely in the top 5. It's not just that it's a random list of things. It's the fact that he clearly gave up on the structure of going year by year halfway through the song, just grouping the entire late 60s, 70s and 80s into like two verses, where Watergate is immediately followed by the advent of punk rock, and that he is finally pushed him over the line by soda commercials, which are apparently the only thing in the second half of the twentieth century that warrant his commentary.

Also, I can't read any twentieth century history without getting some line from this song in my head. I spent the last few weeks reading a history of communism, and it was a nightmare: every single morning involved waking up and humming a different facile verse from that godforsaken song in the shower.

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Serious? Lee
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I don't have a problem with Joel's song We Didn't Start the Fire. I rather like the sentiment it evokes.

These are his songs I truly enjoy:
This Is The Time
Scenes From an Italian Restaurant
She’s Got a Way
Piano Man
New York State of Mind
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Christopher Yaure
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ExcitingJeff wrote:
OK, one stone: We Didn't Start the Fire is, if not the worst song ever written, definitely in the top 5. It's not just that it's a random list of things. It's the fact that he clearly gave up on the structure of going year by year halfway through the song, just grouping the entire late 60s, 70s and 80s into like two verses, where Watergate is immediately followed by the advent of punk rock, and that he is finally pushed him over the line by soda commercials, which are apparently the only thing in the second half of the twentieth century that warrant his commentary.

Also, I can't read any twentieth century history without getting some line from this song in my head. I spent the last few weeks reading a history of communism, and it was a nightmare: every single morning involved waking up and humming a different facile verse from that godforsaken song in the shower.


Counterthoughts:
1. The structure matches how one sees the world - when one is young, the timing and order of events is clear; as one gets older, they get more and more mixed together.
2. Complaining that a song is bad because you frequently find yourself humming the tune is a bit bizarre.
3. Conciseness is a valuable quality in poetry - Billy Joel brings a multitude of political and social memories to mind via 1- to 3-word phrases.
4. An article that ranked We Didn't Start the Fire as 120th out of 121 Billy Joel songs complained about the rhymes. It takes a "get off my lawn" grump not to appreciate rhyming Joe DiMaggio with Marilyn Monroe.
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Jeff
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actuaryesquire wrote:
Complaining that a song is bad because you frequently find yourself humming the tune is a bit bizarre.

Great. Now I have "The Song That Doesn't End" stuck in my head.
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Clay Blankenship
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An Innocent Man is one of the first albums I bought (on cassette).

Some of my favorites would be:

New York State of Mind
Baby Grand
Leningrad
Goodnight Saigon
The Longest Time

I don't think I've ever heard Root Beer Rag, I'll have to look that up.

Have fun!


BTW, if you ever see a "piano man" playing at a bar or restaurant, they don't really appreciate it when you try to put bread in their jar.

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Huzonfirst
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actuaryesquire wrote:
Counterthoughts:
1. The structure matches how one sees the world - when one is young, the timing and order of events is clear; as one gets older, they get more and more mixed together.
2. Complaining that a song is bad because you frequently find yourself humming the tune is a bit bizarre.
3. Conciseness is a valuable quality in poetry - Billy Joel brings a multitude of political and social memories to mind via 1- to 3-word phrases.
4. An article that ranked We Didn't Start the Fire as 120th out of 121 Billy Joel songs complained about the rhymes. It takes a "get off my lawn" grump not to appreciate rhyming Joe DiMaggio with Marilyn Monroe.
Absolutely. I'm a songwriter and I think We Didn't Start the Fire is an amazing creation. A unique, one of a kind thing, but still the product of a skilled craftsman.

In addition to your points, another thing I love is the rhythm of the words. Listen to the penultimate stanza: "Foreign debts, homeless vets, Aids, Crack, Bernie Goetz." They hit you like a hammer, one after another, all of them drawn from the headlines of the day.

As for the Rock and Roller Cola Wars last line, I think it's great. The battle between Coke and Pepsi was reaching ludicrous proportions, climaxed by Pepsi hiring the world's greatest performer (Michael Jackson). The contrast between the seriousness of Joel's earlier memories and the inanity of the current one made this the perfect ending.
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Huzonfirst
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snoweel wrote:
BTW, if you ever see a "piano man" playing at a bar or restaurant, they don't really appreciate it when you try to put bread in their jar.
Okay, this made me LOL!
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Favorite lines: "You may be right. I may be crazy. But it just may be a lunatic you're looking for."
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Peter Augerot
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We didn't start the fire!

Even if we're just dancing in the dark!
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Jim Patterson
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ExcitingJeff wrote:
OK, one stone: We Didn't Start the Fire is, if not the worst song ever written, definitely in the top 5. It's not just that it's a random list of things. It's the fact that he clearly gave up on the structure of going year by year halfway through the song, just grouping the entire late 60s, 70s and 80s into like two verses, where Watergate is immediately followed by the advent of punk rock, and that he is finally pushed him over the line by soda commercials, which are apparently the only thing in the second half of the twentieth century that warrant his commentary.

Also, I can't read any twentieth century history without getting some line from this song in my head. I spent the last few weeks reading a history of communism, and it was a nightmare: every single morning involved waking up and humming a different facile verse from that godforsaken song in the shower.


The worst thing about this song for me personally was that it dropped when I was in j-school, and at least two instructors took it upon themselves to assess our knowledge of baby boomer history and find us wanting because we, unlike they, hadn't lived through those years.z

Billy Joel is so "complicated" in a way. To me, his early stuff, pre-Innocent Man or maybe pre-Nylon Curtain, is light-years better than his later stuff, but even the early stuff is filled with doozies that make me squirm with their self-indulgent poseurism. Maybe "Nylon Curtain" really is the dividing line, as it has both "Allentown" and "Goodnight Saigon" on it. But ... But ... my 1980s self would have loved to have seen him.
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howl hollow howl
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MWChapel wrote:
Every time my wife farts I start singing
Big Shot?
Movin' Out?
We Didn't Start the Fire?
The Longest Time?
Just the Way You Are?
Scenes from an Italian Restaurant?
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David K.
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He's one of my top two or three songwriter/piano player/performers

My all time favorite Billy Joel hit list:

Piano Man
Captain Jack
Say Goodbye to Hollywood
New York State of Mind
The Stranger
Scenes from an Italian Restaurant
Just the way you are
Movin' Out
Only the good die young
She's always a woman
My Life
Big Shot
You May be right
Don't ask me why
It's still rock and roll
Tell Her about it
Uptown Girl

Right about there is where he started losing me. I wasn't all that enthralled with the Nylon Curtain. An Innocent Man got me back and interested again. The Bridge was OK, but after that I lost interest and I just kept listening to his older stuff. I even have a few songbooks of his piano music. Some I can play, some is just too hard for me.
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Dennis Ku
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Oh, sweet mother of god, not We Didn't Start the Fire. I think Billy Joel is a great musician and a very, very good pianist, but that song makes my ears bleed. It has the worst lyrics of any song he's ever written!

He has sooooo many good songs though.
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Erik D
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I have mixed feelings on Joel. For instance, with each passing year, I hate Piano Man more and more (it's the real life story of how awesome he is. yay!).

I was in the car the other day and Pressure came on. The lyrics are pretty bad and Joel's delivery is hilariously cheesy (especially every time he growls "Pressure!"). However, when you take out those and that 60% awful/40% awesome synth riff, there's a pretty damn good song hidden in there.

I'd say I only straight up hate about 5% of his catalog. Most of it I'm indifferent to or mildly amused by its eightiesness.

Now if I had to pick tracks of his I genuinely enjoy:

1. Captain Jack
2. Say Goodbye to Hollywood
3. Scenes from an Italian Restaurant
4. The Downeaster Alexa
5. Prelude/Angry Young Man
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Christopher Yaure
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I think the hate for Piano Man is misguided. Few of the haters dislike the song; typically they dislike that Billy Joel is singing about his awesomeness.

Billy Joel write Piano Man while he was still playing piano in a bar. He had signed a contract and moved to California, but he was not yet hot stuff. C'mon, at that point his only album was Cold Spring Harbor and his only hit was a live recording of Captain Jack.

If you don't like the song, fine. But to dislike it because of who Billy Joel became is silly.
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Victor Caminha
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And so it begins...
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Uptown girl.
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Christopher Yaure
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The concert was awesome! It ranks with the best concerts I have ever attended, and was defintely the best peformance I have heard by an old-timer.

The warmup artist was Gavin Degraw. He performed for about 35 minutes. Some of the crowd got loud, ok warmup.

25 songs in 2-1/2 hours (no intermission, just a brief break before the 5(!) encore songs). He also included teases from other songs (not his), like Sherry Following is the playlist:
Big Shot - great start to get the crowd going
My Life - preceded by pictures of his 1-1/2 day old baby girl, Della Rose. Billy Joel tossed cigars out to the audience
This is the Time (selected by the audience over Summer, Highland Falls)
The Entertainer
No Man's Land
The Downeaster Alexa
An Innocent Man - Billy Joel hit the high notes, although not with as much power as he used to. He still has a wide range, and has added a growl at the low end that I do not remember
Allentown - a must for a concert in eastern PA. The crowd roared when this started
Goodnight Saigon - He had a number of veterans from various eras on stage - the crowd showed the vets the love they did not get from the homefront in the 70s
The Ballad of Billy the Kid - he discussed the popularity of this song when he played at a bar in Philly before Captain Jack got him a contract
New York State of Mind - included a great sax riff on New York, New York. The backup band included three saxes (a number of the performers shifted instruments from song to song - one woman played sax, drums, and sang vocals). I had forgotten how much I like the instrumentals in his songs. Saxaphones are almost as much a part of his book as is the piano
Movin' Out (Anthony's Song) - he seemed to alter the lyrics to one objectionable phrase
Keeping the Faith
Say Goodbye to Hollywood - in this and other songs extended improv sections sometimes got a bit muddy, but the energy never dropped
Don't Ask Me Why
She's Always a Woman - the Philly Fanatic showed up somewhere around here
Captain Jack - reportedly he does not play this much any more, but a Philly audience expects it
Scenes from an Italian Restaurant
Piano Man - the audience sang along with several songs, none so much as this one. Bands often stop playing and let the audience continue singing a song on their own - usually the audience loses steam and the song fades off. Here, Billy Joel and the band, without warning, left the audience to sing the last 4 lines alone - the audience picked up power rather than dropping off. The best audience singing I have ever heard. Billy Joel appeared stunned when the song was over.
After abot 5 minutes off stage, Billy Joel and the band returned for an encore.
We Didn't Start the Fire - the sound was a little muddy - I'm not sure if the sound techs had the balance right
Uptown Girl
It's Still Rock and Roll to Me
You May be Right
Only the Good Die Young

I have never seen so many broad smiles in a concert audience. People were simply happy to hear and be part of a great concert. A very special evening.
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