Tag Archives: Billy Joel

In the Mood for a Melody

The other day I came upon Brian Eno’s article about singing with other people:

There are physiological benefits, obviously: You use your lungs in a way that you probably don’t for the rest of your day, breathing deeply and openly. And there are psychological benefits, too: Singing aloud leaves you with a sense of levity and contentedness. And then there are what I would call “civilizational benefits.” When you sing with a group of people, you learn how to subsume yourself into a group consciousness because a capella singing is all about the immersion of the self into the community. That’s one of the great feelings — to stop being me for a little while and to become us. That way lies empathy, the great social virtue.

The next evening, as if to accidentally confirm this thesis, I went with my sister to see Billy Joel perform at Wrigley Field. And boy was there group singing, 40,000 strong. Not only that, but several times Billy gave the crowd a “fielder’s choice”: he’d name two of his songs and played whichever one got more cheers and applause.

One song he had no choice but to play was “Piano Man”. Because everyone knows it so well, he let the crowd take one chorus a cappella:

Sing us a song, you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well, we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you’ve got us feelin’ alright

Civilizational benefits indeed. That cliche about gathering around a fire to sing “Kumbaya” came from somewhere.

Soundtrack of the moment, part III

Haven’t done one of these in a while. Since the last one, I’ve tightened my music collection dramatically so as to eliminate the stuff I don’t listen to, as well as the stuff I had just for the sake of having. Here it goes…

“I’m Waiting for the Day” – The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
Pet Sounds has grown on me. At first I thought it was overrated, but after repeated listenings, O can’t get enough of it. Now if I can only get the vinyl…

“Your Mother Should Know” – The Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour
Such a catchy melody. Tight composition and easy to listen to over and over again.

“Prelude/Angry Young Man” – Billy Joel – Turnstiles
I’m so glad I’ve discovered more of Billy Joel’s catalogue. His late 70s music is among the best of all pop music.

“Jesus” – Brand New – The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me
From a former pop punk rock band comes this thoughtful, heavy-hitting tune in an album worthy of decade-best lists. A great spiritual song from a great rock band.

“The Greatest” – Cat Power – The Greatest
I’ve just gotten into female singer-songwriters and I’m lovin’ ever minute of it! Down to the bare bones, a la the Plastic Ono Band.

“Rubylove” – Cat Stevens – Teaser and the Firecat
Again with the singer-songwriters. This just goes to show that all you really need is a guitar or piano and a voice to make really good music. Check out any of Cat’s stuff.

“You Are My Joy” – David Crowder Band – A Collision or (3+4=7)
Listened to this album all the time at summer camp. It flows together well and provides the usual Crowder kick in the upbeat songs, as well as the deep thoughts in the slower ones.

“When Your Mind’s Made Up” – Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova – Once
Such a brilliant movie. Since it’s basically a musical, the songs make it what it is. This song is quite powerful and driving, but you need to see the movie and buy the soundtrack. I hope ‘Falling Slowly’ gets an Oscar nod, and hopefully a win.

“Bring on the Lucie (Freda Peeple) – John Lennon – Mind Games
Basically all of John’s solo stuff is great, but this song is especially catchy. I finally have the vinyl as well.

“Potato’s in the Paddy Wagon” – the Main Street Singers – A Mighty Wind soundtrack
I think I heard the soundtrack before I saw the movie, but both are awesome. I just love this song’s groove and altogether folksy spirit.

“Man We Was Lonely” – Paul McCartney – McCartney
This was the solo album that was released right after the Beatles broke up, and pre-Wings, so it’s good. All the songs are acoustic and stripped down, which is good.

“Leavin’ on a Jet Plane” – Peter, Paul & Mary – Album 1700
I didn’t know PPM did this song. I love this kind of stuff.

“Videotape” – Radiohead – In Rainbows
I’m no Radiohead snob, but it’s a great album overall. I paid a few bucks for it on their website because I wanted to be legit, and I also wanted to reward them for sticking it to the recording industry.

“Political Science” – Randy Newman – Sail Away
This song was written in the 1970s, but it is still all too relevant today. Plus, I love Randy Newman. His voice is quite off sometimes, but having just piano and voice for most of it is a plus for me.

“America” – Simon & Garfunkel – Bookends
Yet another ridiculous catchy S&G tune. I could listen to their albums all day.

“Island” – The Starting Line – Direction
I didn’t think they could top their previous album, but Direction is just flat-out good. It’s different enough from their past work to be progress, yet it sticks to what’s worked in the past, so it succeeds on every level.

“Sir Duke” – Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life
We played this in pep band. It’s such a fun song. I haven’t delved too far into Stevie’s music, but I will eventually.

you never give me your money

I love antique shops. There are 3 here in Naperville but only one of them is that good. I just love walking through aisles and aisles of history and nostalgia. Recently I’ve been finding piles upon piles of old records. Because of my love of history and good music, I naturally appreciate a good record. I only own two so far; The Beatles’ Abbey Road and Billy Joel’s The Stranger, but I plan on getting a lot more in the future.

I realized that back when records were the only form of music, you couldn’t just throw your entire music library on shuffle like you can nowadays with iPods and CD changers. They required listening to the whole record straight through, so music back then was made to make this possible. Consequentially, albums made sense. They weren’t just random songs put together to make some money–they were fluid and coherent. So recently I’ve been making myself pick an album to listen to and listen to it straight through. It makes the experience so much more fruitful and enjoyable. You can get the overall feeling of the record and then decide if you like it or not. Just try it a few times. I will suggest starting with Abbey Road because it is the greatest album ever made.

P.S. Don’t forget to send me your guesses for the Academy Award nominations which are immediately under this post.

Soundtrack of the moment, part I

No, this isn’t that stupid random listing of songs that supposedly follows your life. These are some songs that have changed me, made me think, made me cry, and want me to become a better person. Enjoy.

“Candy Shop” – Andrew Bird – Oh! the Grandeur
So nostalgic. The groove makes you want to do the Charleston.

“Martha My Dear” – The Beatles – The White Album
There are so many Beatles song I could have chosen but this one is so catchy and my current favorite. Do yourself a favor and listen to this whole double album.

“Vienna” – Billy Joel – The Stranger
I recommend this entire album. I wish I could make music like Billy Joel.

“Love Affair” – Copeland – Eat, Sleep, Repeat
Ridiculously good song off of a ridiculously good album. Their musicianship and composition skills inspire me so much.

“Changes” – David Bowie – Hunky Dory
One of the catchiest songs you’ll ever hear.

“Time Bomb” – The Format – Dog Problems
This band is going to be huge. Such a great blend of acoustic pop, rock, and brilliance.

“Backyard” – Guster – Keep It Together
I just love the grooves they create. The chord progressions are so emotionally charged.

“The Mixed Tape” – Jack’s Mannequin – Everything In Transit
I didn’t know anything about this band before listening to this disc. So glad I did. The first time I heard this track it felt like music was completely new and uninhibited.

“At the Mercy” – Paul McCartney – Chaos and Creation in the Backyard
I never listened to any Wings stuff, so that’s probably why I love this. Paul’s still got it.

“Bicycle Race” – Queen – Greatest Hits I
At a weird yet awesome song. You will not be able to forget it.

“Short People” – Randy Newman – Little Criminals
Most people probably know Randy Newman from the Toy Story soundtrack but his other stuff is piano pop at its best.

“Samson” – Regina Spektor – Begin to Hope
Brass + strings + inspiration = musical bliss. Such a heart throbbing song.

“I So Hate Consequences” – Relient K – mmHmm
Lyrically, this band is the greatest I’ve ever seen. Everyone can relate to these songs, and this is just a taste of the spiritual and emotional maturity that Matthew Thiessen brings.

“The Only Song” – Sherwood – Summer EP
Pop rock glory.

“The World” – The Starting Line – Based on a True Story
An solid, anthemic pop punk rock song.

“Come On! Feel the Illinoise!” – Sufjan Stevens – Come On Feel the Illinoise!
This man is truly gifted. Where he gets his inspiration/ideas is beyond me.

“Amateur Lovers” – Switchfoot – Oh! Gravity.
This album is so much better than Nothing Is Sound. Had to pick one song but listen to the whole album.

“View From Heaven” – Yellowcard – Ocean Avenue
Such an emotional song from an unlikely source. A great summer record.

So there are just a few of the songs that fill my day. What are yours?