Date: April 18, 2020
There’s a “30 Day Song Challenge” chart floating around that looks like some variant of this:
I’ve loved Billy Joel’s music for as long as I could remember. I saw “Movin’ Out” when it was on Broadway in 2004, at his concert in Raleigh for Valentine’s Day with my now husband about 8 years ago, and at Madison Square Garden with a dear friend of mine for my birthday in 2019. In fact today is his birthday, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY KEITH! I was supposed to see Billy Joel in concert on April 18th with the husband for an early anniversary celebration, but due to Covid-19 it has been postponed to 2021. I decided to see if I could do “30 Days of Billy Joel”, so here it goes! All of the links should open to the song on YouTube.
- A song I like with a color in the title: Unless you count “oyster” as the name of a color, literally the only Billy Joel song I could find was “Shades of Grey” off of the 1993 album River of Dreams. I don’t ever remember hearing this song before, but I like it a lot. Billy did a cover of “House of Blue Light” which is very bluesy, but I still stand by my choice.
- A song I like with a number in the title:”52nd Street” the name of a song and the album from 1978. Also another category where I couldn’t find many candidates, but I’ve always loved this song.
- A song that reminds me of summertime: From the 1983 album, An Innocent Man, “Keeping the Faith” is a song that reminds me of summer time. There’s a set of lyrics that starts with “Learned stickball as a formal education” and ends with “We were keeping the faith… yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah” and it’s always been my favorite part of the song. I remember singing this on a summer break one year and it just reminds me so much of driving with the windows down on a summer day.
- A song that reminds me of someone I’d rather forget: There’s no one I would like to forget, but there’s a moment from high school I would rather forget. I was driving a friend of mine home and not paying attention and was caught speeding, for which I got a ticket only months into me having my license. “And So It Goes“, off of the 1989 album Storm Front, is the song that reminds me of the person in my car at the time.
- A song that needs to be played loud: “Pressure” comes off of the 1982 album The Nylon Curtain and it absolutely needs to be played loud. I always turn up the volume when this song comes on… always.
- A song that makes me want to dance: If we’re going with a fast paced song, “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” is the choice for me off of the album Glass Houses. I’ve always loved the pacing and beat of the song, and it always makes me want to move.
- A song to drive to: There’s no hiding that The Stranger is one of my favorite albums, I’m pretty sure I love every song on “Side One”. “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)” is an excellent song to drive to, especially if you’re moving out of your parent’s house. Everything about it is so typical Italian and I’m here for it.
- A song about drugs or alcohol: If you ask me about drugs/alcohol and Billy Joel, I immediately think of “Captain Jack“. It’s a loooooong and sad song, but it fits the bill. This is off of the 1973 album, Piano Man.
- A song that makes me happy: Off of the 1976 album Turnstiles, which also has a ton of awesome songs, “New York State of Mind” is the one that always makes me happy. As a native of New Jersey I’ve spent a fair amount of time in “the city” and have many friends and family who live their now. I have many happy recent memories there at MSG, The Bronx Zoo, and on Arthur Avenue to name a few.
- A song that makes me sad: I had originally picked “Goodnight Saigon” which is about the Vietnam War, but with all that’s going on in the world “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)” seems more fitting and appropriate. It’s sort of a science fiction song where Billy reminisces about an attack on New York and now he’s living in Florida but trying to keep the memory alive. It’s off of the album Turnstiles.
- A song I never get tired of: “Vienna” is my absolute favorite Billy Joel song, also off of The Stranger, and I never, ever get tired of hearing it. I heard him sing it live, and in person, for the first time in December at MSG and I was on cloud nine for the rest of the evening.
- A song from my preteen years: In the mid-1990’s, my preteen years, there was a TV show called Dave’s World and its theme song was “You May Be Right“, off of Glass Houses, and I remember that being a favorite of mine as I sung into my fake karaoke machine or was meandering around the house. If you listen to it off of the album, it’s the first song and you hear glass breaking and then the song starts and it’s just amazing.
- A song I like from the 70s: A lot of Billy’s music is from the 1970’s and 1980’s, but “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” is another off of 1976’s album Turnstiles and didn’t really fit into any of the other categories, but I felt it needed to be included in this list.
- A song I’d love to be played at my wedding: I told you I loved The Stranger and this category is no exception. “Just the Way You Are” was certainly played at my wedding and the husband and I always dance to Billy Joel songs at other weddings we attend.
- A song I like that’s a cover by another artist: Me First and The Gimme Gimmes is an amazing punk cover band. They have an excellent cover of “Only the Good Die Young”, their version and Billy’s version, that updates one or two of the lyrics to fit the punk scene. As a child of Warped Tour and a punk rock princess, I love both the original (which was also on The Stranger) and the cover.
- A song that’s a classic favorite: Billy obviously has MANY classic favorites, so I chose one here that didn’t really fit into any of the other categories and has a personal meaning. I chose “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant“, also off of The Stranger, not only for its amazing sound and story but also because it’s about a restaurant that was once owned by my Dad’s family. On the back of the album he’s in a room with a lot of pictures on the walls and that was taken at the restaurant when it was still around. Man, do I miss that place.
- A song I’d sing a duet with someone or karaoke: Everyone, I mean absolutely everyone, knows “Piano Man“. It’s the title track from the 1973 album, has easy to remember words, and the rest of the audience will totally help you out. It’s an amazing song to sing with someone else or with a whole bar, it’s especially fun at dueling piano bars.
- A song from the year I was born: I was born in 1986 the year of the Tiger and of the album The Bridge. On that album was the son “A Matter of Trust“, which I love dearly. I also considered “This is the Time” and “Big Man on Mulberry Street”, but ultimately think I jam to my choice the most.
- A song that makes me think about life: I originally had “Miami 2017” here, but then I gave another listen to “I’ve Loved These Days” and it really made me think about life. Another appearance by the album Turnstiles.
- A song that has many meanings to me: “We Didn’t Start the Fire” has many meanings to everyone, and I so hope one of these days he adds a few lines to update the song. It’s off of Storm Front, one of the more recent albums, and is super awesome to hear live.
- A song I like with a person’s name in the title: Billy has quite a few songs that could fit here (“Rosalinda’s Eyes”, “Laura”, “All for Leyna”, etc.) but I have a fondness for “The Ballad of Billy the Kid” from Piano Man. Recently I was at a convention and shared a cab with the actor who played Billy the Kid in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, so that gives this song a little extra special meaning to me as it was a fabulous convention where I made some good memories.
- A song that moves me forward: There’s a song off of An Innocent Man called “The Longest Time” and it always makes me want to get up and go do something. “Tell Her About It” was a runner up for this category, but I like everything about the song I picked just a wee bit more.
- A song I think everybody should listen to: Just as I believe everyone should have a retail job for at least 6 months in their life, I also believe everyone should listen to “The Entertainer” off of Streetlight Serenade. It speaks of the life of an entertainer or really any artist who is freelance. There are huge trade offs that the creative people in the world make to allow the rest of us to benefit from their creativity. Be it a song to listen to, a book to read, art to appreciate, or anything else. So support your artists!
- A song by a band I wish was still together: I was wracking my brains trying to figure out what to do here, when I remembered that Billy likes to do covers every once in a while. I remember him performing “A Hard Day’s Night” and other songs by the Beatles throughout the years and thought how nice it would be for several people in my life to see the Beatles perform live, just one last time. This is for them.
- A song I like by an artist no longer living: Ray Charles was an amazing artist and he collaborated with Billy on “Baby Grand“, another off of The Bridge. They both put their skills on the piano to good use over the years, sometimes to the detriment of their personal lives, but it’s a fantastic collaboration.
- A song that makes me want to fall in love: “She’s Got A Way” off of Billy’s first album, Cold Spring Harbor, reminds me that I’d always wanted to find a partner who feels this way about me as described in the lyrics. I have been lucky to find quite a few men over the years who have felt this way about me, and I about them. As much as I hate being in love, because it’s illogical, this song brings out the romantic in me.
- A song that breaks my heart: “The Downeaster ‘Alexa‘” is absolutely a song that breaks my heart. “Allentown” is another, but I have a soft spot for fishermen as my Godfather and Uncle was one and lived this life. It talks about ways of life that slowly get taken away, something that’s been a part of your family for years and isn’t needed anymore. Always support local when you can.
- A song by an artist whose voice I love: Obviously if you’ve gotten this far down the list you know I love Billy Joel and his voice. Ultimately for this one I chose “Don’t Ask Me Why” from Glass Houses (though “Sometimes a Fantasy” was a close second). I love the way his New York accent pokes through in several places and Glass Houses just holds a special place in my heart.
- A song I remember from my childhood: I remember all o his songs from my childhood because most of his music came out before I was born. I remember “The River of Dreams” being a big one, as it was the most recent, but there’s something about “Big Shot” off of 52nd Street that makes me choose it for this category. The way it opens, the lyrics, all of it I just remember being so fascinated by it.
- A song that reminds me of myself: There were two choices for this last category. At first I thought “Stiletto”, but then I realized I’m much more “I Go To Extremes” off of Storm Front.
I found this interesting article of someone who ranked all of Billy Joel’s songs. I have no idea if that count is right and I don’t agree with all of the rankings, but I thought you might be interested in it: https://www.vulture.com/2015/02/complete-works-121-billy-joel-songs-ranked.html
There are so many amazing songs that didn’t quite fit in this list, or some categories where I could have had multiple songs. I really enjoyed trying to see if I could do this and I hope you enjoyed it too. Regardless if you’re a longtime fan, he’s not your cup of Earl Grey tea, or a newcomer who found something you didn’t know about before, it’s music that brings us all together sometime.
Billy’s had 12 albums of pop-rock songs and I’ve listed them here along with my thoughts on them:
- Cold Spring Harbor, 1971.
- Piano Man, 1973. I absolutely love all 10 songs on this album.
- Streetlife Serenade, 1974.
- Turnstiles, 1976. I absolutely love all 8 songs on this album.
- The Stranger, 1977. I love 7 of the 9 songs on this album… so it’s apparently my fourth favorite?!?!
- 52nd Street, 1978. I absolutely love all 9 songs on this album.
- Glass Houses, 1980. Side one and one song from side two are my jams.
- The Nylon Curtain, 1982. Most of side one is good.
- An Innocent Man, 1983. I love 7 of the 10 songs on this album.
- The Bridge, 1986. I love 4 of the 9 songs on this album.
- Storm Front, 1989. I love half of the songs on this album.
- River of Dreams, 1993. I love 4 of the 10 songs on this album.
Stay safe everyone. TA Out!