Like most people with no discernible musical talent but a love of music I am deeply, deeply jealous of anyone who can write a song and/or play anything more complex than the opening eight bars of Classical Gas on the instrument of their choice. I would kill to be musically talented, to be the 98th (or whatever they’re up to) member of Belle and Sebastian or even to be able to noodle about on a piano in a remotely cool fashion. Sadly, as my long-suffering guitar teacher can attest, I am bereft of both natural talent and a desire for hard work to compensate for said lack of talent.
The weird thing is that lately the object of my profound jealousy is not the adorable Stuart Murdoch, the love-him-or-hate-him Morrissey or anyone remotely cool by any standard measures of coolness as we know it. Instead it’s… Billy Joel.
Yeah I know.
Billy Joel makes me think of my parents, specifically my father and his extremely inappropriate desire to have Only The Good Die Young played at his funeral (for anyone unaware of what the song’s about… well it’s not for me to say but it doesn’t go hand in hand with, you know, death). And yet I sort of love Billy Joel. I love his smarm, I love his swagger, I love the way he writes gushy love songs for his latest wife only to break up with her two months later. I even love.. his music. Oh Come On you know it’s kind of good. Not startling, perhaps, not amazingly innovative but really rather GOOD: it has enthusiasm, it has passion, sporadically brilliant lyrics and it is all bloody catchy.
Even leaving aside the too-overplayed-to-be-taken-seriously-anymore Piano Man you’ve still got a rather impressive list via She’s Got a Way, the aforementioned Only the Good Die Young, Movin’ Out, Just the Way you Are and It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me. And don’t even get me started on my personal favourite The Longest Time, which is worth you tubing if only for the fact it has arguably the most (unintentionally?) funny 80s film clip ever. Seriously, kids, I’m talking rival gangs and whistling.
Billy Joel’s music is not the kind of music you have earnest discussions about at parties with cute bespectacled boys, it is not the kind of music you readily admitted to enjoying, it is not even the kind of music you play when company is present. It is, however, the kind of music (or, if you like, I) am pleasantly surprised by on the radio if I’m channel switching, secretly delight in a cheesy sing along to in virtually any situation and occassionally feel a strong desire for when a certain mood strikes.
Like oooh sayright now.