11.21.2005

Heart Attack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack

I have to write about Elton John and Billy Joel. They are the absolute definition of Piano\Rock. They are are interwined in eveyone over 20's consciousness, showing the world that there is little difference between camp, retro-pastiche and "album-orientated rock". How did these two lads from the depths of ebony/ivory depravity do it?

I don't know.

But I still want to shout out to them. I bet that most people have a favorite Biily Joel and Elton John song. They are song writers after all. Do we think of Steve Perry as a song writer? Do we even consider Mick Jagger as a song writer? Nope. I think that that Elton and Joel have somehow inherited the mantle of Tin Pan Alley song stylest. They surely owe more to Lennon/McCartney than Cole Porter. But their solo-ness gives them a claim to the troubadour/songwriter vacuum that was missing in the era of Blur Oyster Cult and Fleetwood Mac. People like a troubadour, dammit.

Bonus!!
I don't have to post any MP3's because we know them all!
Someone Saved My Life Tonight, Piano Man, Matter of Time, Tiny Dancer, Rocket Man, Goodnight Saigon, Scenes from An Italian Restaurant, Sad Songs Say So Much. If it is worth knowing we already know it. Everytime I go into a grocery store I hear a Billy Joel song. They are more saturated than The Who, Led Zepplin and Queen. I honstly don't understand it. I can't disparage their talent at all; why so big, though?

Maybe we just really dig somebody playing the piano. Look at the perverse popularity of Piano Bars. Alex thinks piano players are funny (ask him about his ingenious VH1 Classic Keyboard Player theory), but he, like us all, had plenty of kind words for Ben Folds. Can we define the difference between the "piano man" and Ben Folds? [Roxanne gave me my first taste of Ben Folds at Jones Beach in 1998--truly memorable show] Is it "Ben Folds is just Gen X Billy Joel, isn't he?" He's awesome lyrically and he plays the **** out of the piano, but it still can't really compare with Radiohead or Wilco. Piano/Rock, which is perfectly typified by Billy Joel and Elton John, will always be a second class citizen to Guitar\Rock.

Now tell me what your favorite John or Joel song is case I know you like "Big Shot".
Or is it "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart"?

11 Comments:

Blogger Danielle said...

'There's nothing else I can doooooooo cos I'm doing it aaaaall for Lena!'

Or maybe 'Allentown'.

And actually, you know, 'The Longest Time' is pretty great too.

(I'm fully outed as a Joel fan. Even if he is a cheeseball.)

I want to hear Alex's VH1 Classic Keyboard Player Theory.

11:48 PM  
Blogger sonnet said...

I am a total sucker for both Billy Joel and Elton John. When Alex and I moved in together I got rid of most of my Billy Joel albums because he mocked them, and me for owning them. What was I thinking? And how to pick a favorite? "You May Be Right", "Don't Ask Me Why","The Longest Time", "Movin' Out." How does a mother choose between her children?

One of the first concerts I ever went to - after the Jackson 5 - was a Billy Joel concert. Everyone screamed like crazy when Billy did a flip off his grand piano. I got a t-shirt that said BJ on it in big red letters. Hot.

As for Elton, I'm gonna go with "Tiny Dancer." It has that bittersweet tone that reminds me of my childhood.

11:55 PM  
Blogger Danielle said...

Oh! 'Don't Ask Me Why'! I totally forgot about that song, and its rulingness.

Brent mocks me for the Joel love, too. But you know what? Fuck him. In the 80s, he listened to Rush. So I win!

12:11 AM  
Blogger black b said...

is there a song that one of them sings in which the phrase, "get back! funky cat!" is uttered? cause if it's one of them, that one gets my vote. if not, i would have to say that for el bj my fave is 'you may be right' just because it's so damn fun to sing.

flashback! the year is 1984. a young girl with what some referred to as a muffin haircut but which she angrily defended as a dorothy hamill BOB sits at the piano. alone. she opens her well-worn 'pop songs for beginners' songbook. she flips past 'the love theme from ice castle' because she played/sang it for an hour straight while weeping over the ivories yesterday. she turns instead to 'for the longest time' and proceeds to annoy the tar out of her entire family by whoa-who-o-oooahing all over the place. excellent.

um, for elton i have a hard time because it's a guilty pleasure that has never truly been a pleasure. 'sad songs' prolly.

9:18 AM  
Anonymous JB said...

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Billy Joel never wrote a song that could compare to anything in the John/Taupin top 50.

My favorite would have to be "Your Song". I'm getting a little misty just thinking about it. Elton may have gone way off the script in the last 15 years, but his early work kills me.

For the record, I wore out my cassette of "The Stranger" in junior high. Opening cut "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" was my favorite.

11:52 AM  
Blogger glycerin said...

Goobye Yellowbrick Road

and

She's Always a Woman
and
Big Shot

Big Shot's lycirs where why I was so impressed when I first went to Elaine's

my cultural touchpoint, years too late!

12:45 PM  
Blogger Danielle said...

Hey, you know what I forgot? 'Say Goodbye to Hollywood'. It's a perfect Billy-doing-Springsteen-doing-Spector-tribute!

3:25 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

You guys are dorks! Hahahahahaah.

Actually, re: BJ, I have to concede a fondness for The Longest Time. Other than that, I have entirely renounced any affection I may have had at one point.

Elton John is another story -- he has written some really good songs, like Tiny Dancer, Your Song, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues, Rocket Man, Levon...lots of 'em. I'm still coming to sorting the EJ wheat from the EJ chaff, but there's plenty of both to keep my busy.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Oh, I also still kind of like Keepin' The Faith -- another Billy classic from An Innocent Man. Oh, and Just The Way You are (sans solo) is kind of pretty -- and I heard it a lot as a little kid, so you know, nostalgia and all that.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Danielle said...

Yeah, Elton is more appealing than Billy, because Elton is the kind of man who can carry off a Donald Duck costume. I still think Billy gets a totally unfair critical rap. And even though 'Your Song' is objectively a great piece of work, if I never have to hear it again it'll be too soon. It's like 'Stairway to Heaven' or something! The radio never stops playing it!

'Rocket Man' and 'Philadelphia Freedom' rule utterly, though.

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Joel said...

I don't think pop music has come up with a lyric better than "If he can't drive with a broken back, at least he can polish the fenders"

11:38 PM  

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