I am a huge music lover. Big time. It is my passion. I play the cello. I, for a few years, played the string bass in my high school band. I was in every available choir from middle school through my final year of college. I love all genres of music, from hardcore gangsta rap to the classical Baroque pieces performed by Yo-Yo Ma.
Music is my life. That is why the realization that I haven’t written anything related to music came as such a shock to me. I was humming one of my favorite songs while playing an online game when I had an epiphany: I must share my love of music in a new series about songs people probably forgot or never knew to begin with.
So here it is — part one of my new series. I am beginning with an artist who spans decades and is beloved by people of all ages. He crosses musical genres and he appeals to all generations. He writes songs about history, culture, politics, pain, and beauty. He is the Piano Man.
1.One of my all-time favorite songs by Billy Joel is “And So It Goes.” A man recognizes that his inability to truly trust and be open with the woman he loves has led to a distance their relationship is unable to span. He begs her to stay, but knows she cannot. It is a piece about lost love and heartbreak, a lyric poem set to a beautiful, haunting melody.
2.Another of my favorites is “Goodnight Saigon.” It was written as an ode to those who lost their childhoods, and often their lives, in Vietnam. It is a powerful reminder of the lasting and life-altering destruction of war. Whether the war is necessary or not, its costs are astronomical. Whether the war is popular or not, its effects are detrimental.
3.My next recommendation from Billy Joel is “Allentown.” It’s about a dying town full of unemployed blue-collar workers. They once believed in the “American dream” but are discovering that the world sometimes lets you down, no matter how hard you work. It is a poignant statement about the dangers of outsourcing our jobs to other countries. It’s also a cautionary tale to our nation’s young people, with the moral being that life isn’t fair and you, unfortunately, don’t always get what you deserve.
4. Next up is “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” This song is an impressive list of the major occurrences in the world from 1949 through 1989. Each detail had a significant impact on society. Plus, the tune is fun.
5. And, finally, “The Piano Man.” Listen closely to the lyrics — this song describes with undeniable clarity the sadness and various disappointments people must face in life. Some rely on other folks to help with their struggles. Joel both accepts and mourns the fact that he is the one to whom people turn to get them through their pain.
Let me know your favorite song from one of my favorite artists. Peace and love.