Liking Billy Joel was almost a prerequisite in high school. Our school, after all, was in the town Joel grew up in. We hung out at the village green made famous on a latter album. We were living in Billy Joel's world.
Truth is, I liked Joel. Later, after The Stranger came out and songs like Only the Good Die Young became overplayed anthems for Catholic school girls and after Brenda and Eddie become symbols of Long Island, I lost whatever taste I had for his music. Or maybe his music just outgrew me. But no matter how far I strayed from Joel, no matter how much I make fun of him now or how much disdain I have for the overreaching pop of Glass Houses or the emptiness of The Bridge or the pretentiousness of River of Dreams, I always come back to this album to remember why I really loved his music once upon a time.
Turnstiles is what being a singer songwriter is all about it. It's not about some melodramatic guy with a guitar or piano singing self conscious songs about love and loss. It's about making poetry out of life. It's about a guy with a flair for words and a talent for making music putting those things together to create something that grasps your heart and makes joy within your soul, even when the words are melancholy. The joy comes in the completeness of the words and music together, in a connection that seems almost spiritual in its beauty.
Summer, Highland Falls is the essence of all that; it's Whitman poetry with modern musings set to a pretty tune. The rest of the album is just as good. Miami: 2017, James, Angry Young Man and New York State of Mind, played out as it is, still makes me smile and remember all the reasons I love living here even when I hate it. I Loved These Days will still make me do an impromptu karaoke when it shows up on my iPod.
I forgot until now how much I adore this album and how much I adored Billy Joel once upon a time. It makes me forget how Scenes From an Italian Restaurant makes me cringe, in a way only someone who spent a lot of time at the village green in Hicskville, Long Island can know.
This is an album by album review of my entire record collection. This means music spanning almost 40 years, from my Archies record I cut off a cereal box to whatever I bought last week.
This is where I get to be the music critic I always wanted to be, but no magazine would have. These are more like sensory reactions than reviews; it's about what the music did for me, not what it should do for you.
You can read the entire details of the project and why I'm doing it here.