Piano Man
December 7, 2010 8:14 AM   Subscribe

All of Billy Joel's Greatest Hits... played at once.
posted by dobbs (92 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
The secret behind noise music: revealed!
posted by ORthey at 8:18 AM on December 7, 2010


His teeth in that picture kind of freak me out.
posted by phunniemee at 8:20 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


If only playing this once would make it so that no more Billy Joel would ever be played for the rest of the duration of this universe's existence.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:21 AM on December 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


I was really hoping it would reveal something like this. But no, it's just noise.
posted by 256 at 8:23 AM on December 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


This made me laugh way more than I thought it would.
posted by everichon at 8:24 AM on December 7, 2010


Oh the cacophony! I kind of fell into a trance.
posted by garnetgirl at 8:25 AM on December 7, 2010


I began to feel an unexplainable feeling of despair as I was listening to this.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 8:25 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is terrifying; the worst part is that I know most of these songs backward and forward, so bits and pieces keep popping out at me through the noise. The cascading dropoff as you pass 3'45" or so is interesting, actually.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:26 AM on December 7, 2010




I began to feel an unexplainable feeling of despair as I was listening to this.

Don't worry that's a typical reaction to being exposed to Billy Joel.
posted by The Whelk at 8:26 AM on December 7, 2010


In 30 years, the secret messages found therein will be the basis of the twelfth sequel in the National Treasure series.
posted by Bromius at 8:29 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


A lot of people don't realize that Billy Joel is super-awesome. Like Neil Diamond level super-awesome. He also might be an intensely depressed and lonely person. Or perhaps that's just around the holidays.
posted by ND¢ at 8:32 AM on December 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


The internets always get so good around the holidays.
posted by punkfloyd at 8:32 AM on December 7, 2010


played at once. and probably will be for life.
posted by pianomover at 8:32 AM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Fuck yea, finally we can hear these the way they are meant to be heard. I'm glad Joel is getting his due.

The hope of Uptown Girl and Tell Her About It, the despair in She's Always a Woman to Me, and the anger in Big Shot, all rolled into a gooey ball of emotion.

Anyone have this in FLAC ?
posted by Ad hominem at 8:32 AM on December 7, 2010


Those who find this kind of thing interesting might also enjoy my offering of Each Beatles Album With All The Songs From It Played Simultaneously.
posted by Aquaman at 8:33 AM on December 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


I can explain it. You were listening to Billy Joel. And not just listening to one painfully lame song, you were listening to many of them simultaneously.

That despair you felt is the collective grief of everyone who's ever been wronged by American culture because that track is the best example of why it's worthless.

That link was painful. It was so awful that I would rather listen to "Jingle Bell Rock" in one ear and "Benny and the Jets" in the other. And I wouldn't do that on a dare.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:36 AM on December 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


Ack-ack-ack-ack-ack.
posted by pracowity at 8:38 AM on December 7, 2010 [9 favorites]


Buncha haters -- he didn't start the fire.
posted by iamck at 8:39 AM on December 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is what it sounds like...when shoggoths cry.
posted by everichon at 8:40 AM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Buncha haters -- you had to be a big shot, din't cha?
posted by ND¢ at 8:41 AM on December 7, 2010


Buncha haters -- it's still rock and roll to me.
posted by box at 8:45 AM on December 7, 2010


> It was so awful that I would rather listen to "Jingle Bell Rock" in one ear and "Benny and the Jets" in the other.

"Benny and the Jets" wasn't Elton John, not Billy Joel. It can be a very fine distinction, but I'd have to say that Joel couldn't even aspire to the meager spark of life that Sir Elton manages to musically capture.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:46 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


A lot of people don't realize that Billy Joel is super-awesome. Like Neil Diamond level super-awesome.

I don't think that means what you think it means.
posted by mhoye at 8:46 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, falsetto chorus to "Uptown Girl" repeated in hell for an eternity.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:47 AM on December 7, 2010


Neil Diamond is the only person I follow on twitter. I'm thinking of adding Joel to the pantheon
posted by Ad hominem at 8:47 AM on December 7, 2010


Do this to all of the songs made by your favorite band (which sucks by the way), and it wouldn't sound any better (probably worse). Billy Joel was an immensely talented songwriter and performer back in the day - he certainly didn't sail to fame on his good looks.

When will you realize?
posted by squalor at 8:50 AM on December 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Buncha haters - Ack ack ack ack ack
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 8:53 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I absolutely loved Billy Joel about twelve or so years ago. Concerts and everything. When I was at NYU he did a private lecture (think Inside the Actor's Studio) for about 100-200 students at Cooper Union and when it was him and a small room and a piano is was actually an awesome fucking experience.

Musical tastes shift and change, obviously, but even having fallen out as a fan I don't really get the point of this exercise. This would be interesting if it was like the Nickelback YouTube and it noted how a whole bunch of songs lined up together... they don't.

So the point of this single-link YouTube FPP is that 24 songs all played at the same time is loud and irritating, and that most of us think Billy Joel is lame in 2010. That's... that's a revelation, really. Insert generic sarcastic phrase suggesting the web and what is best in it here.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:54 AM on December 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


I like Billy Joel's music, and I like it unironically. I don't think he's God's gift to music, nor do I think that he engendered any changes in genre or altered the direction of pop, but he's a solid songwriter and has a better voice than a lot of the singers out there. Sure, a lot of it is dated, but a lot of dated stuff is still good stuff.

Joel, himself, had no illusions about his place in the pantheon of American popular music. During an interview in the mid-80s (it might have been on 60 Minutes; I don't remember, but I know it was a long-form interview), the interviewer said (I'm paraphrasing) "You are considered to be a genius songwriter, both of music and lyrics, by many in the music industry, as well as the radio audience. What are your thoughts on that?" Joel responded (and I'm pretty sure this is almost word-for-word) "I'm not a genius; I'm just about average. People probably hold that opinion of me because so many of the people who write and perform pop music today suck."
posted by tzikeh at 8:54 AM on December 7, 2010 [10 favorites]


That Billy Joel didn't sail to fame on his good looks? I have already realized that.

Hey, here's an Attila song. It's the only goddamn Billy Joel album you can't find in a thrift store.
posted by box at 8:55 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think this might be more interesting if you lined up the ends of the songs rather than the beginnings.
posted by dfan at 9:00 AM on December 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


The frothing haterade in this thread is kinda comical, actually.
posted by blucevalo at 9:02 AM on December 7, 2010


Obligatory link to the tour journal of We Didn't Start the Fire, the five-man, full spectrum Billy Joel cover band.
posted by Iridic at 9:03 AM on December 7, 2010


A lot of people don't realize that Billy Joel is super-awesome.

He is (and I really mean that). But let me tell my Billy Joel story (note: not in any way actually my story). Some schmucks talented and respectable journalists were running around shooting a video of "Billy Joel's Long Island." They went to a record shop to pick up a CD and get some dirt, but the clerk there didn't have an unkind word to say about the man.

They harassed him for a good quotation (and you'll notice that this only appears in print, not in the video), so to shoo them out the door, he said, sarcastically, "if you see a dumpy old bald guy, drunk as hell, getting into a fancy car… it’s probably him."

Apparently no media mention is too small for Billy Joel to notice, because he came into the store a few days later to hash it out with the clerk, Anthony, who unfortunately wasn't there. He left a note (which Anthony says he keeps in a frame at home, although there is a copy behind the desk) that read, "Dear Anthony: Fuck you. -Billy Joel"
posted by uncleozzy at 9:05 AM on December 7, 2010 [12 favorites]


(I should note that I obviously have only heard one side of that story. Maybe they aren't actually talented and respectable journalists.)
posted by uncleozzy at 9:06 AM on December 7, 2010


He's overdue for his Rod Stewart renaissance without the crutch of endless releases of cloying oldies and mangled standards.
posted by blucevalo at 9:09 AM on December 7, 2010


> So the point of this single-link YouTube FPP is that 24 songs all played at the same time is loud and irritating

I think I liked it for exactly the reason you didn't: That the punchline is that all you get is a horrid noise rather than a gratingly familiar-sounding megamix. I think it reflects well on Billy Joel in that regard, and I don't have to either like him or hate him to come to that conclusion.
posted by ardgedee at 9:12 AM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


My love for Billy Joel is completely unironic. I have never been to a concert and I don't ride around with his CDs in my car or anything, but if Scenes From An Italian Restaurant comes on the radio then you best believe I am cranking that shit. When I was in highschool I went on some kind of bus trip with a club. May have been academic challenge, but I'm not sure. What I do know is that me and my buddy G and my little brother sat in the back of the bus, I whipped out the CD booklet for Billy Joel's Greatest Hits which has the lyrics to all the songs printed in it, and the three of us sang every single song printed in that booklet at the top of our lungs all the way to whatever nerd activity we were going to. Our harmonies on The Longest Time were exquisite.

No I didn't get laid in high school. Why do you ask?
posted by ND¢ at 9:12 AM on December 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


Jeez, that was what I expected... useless sound... the point? Almost any artist in the same genre would sound the same... Listening to more than five seconds of that is a waste of your time.
posted by HuronBob at 9:13 AM on December 7, 2010


Here's the quote I think tzikeh is thinking of (well, it's the quote I was thinking of):

Now I have been both praised and criticized in my time. The criticism stung, but the praise sometimes bothered me even more. To have received such praise and honors like this has always been puzzling to me when I consider myself to be an inept pianist, a bad singer, and a merely competent songwriter. What I do, in my opinion, is by no means extraordinary. I am, as I've said, merely competent. But in an age of incompetence, that makes me extraordinary.

It's from his 1993 Berklee Commencement Address.
posted by sdrawkcab at 9:23 AM on December 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh and when Billy Joel was first touring with Elton John back in the day I vividly remember having a conversation with a friend of mine who I had gone to Lollapalooza and Sonic Youth shows with where we noted that they were touring and conceded that were they to play in the town where we lived and we had free tickets then we would probably grudgingly attend. Then we said, well maybe we would travel within an hour to go to such a concert because it would be a good show probably. Then we noted that we might pay up to $50 for tickets to a show like that. Then we came to a consensus that seeing Billy Joel and Elton John in concert together would be worth any amount of money and effort because they were both our very favorite recording artists of all time and they would totally rock live and we started jumping up and down and giggling. It was very similar to this.
posted by ND¢ at 9:24 AM on December 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Like Neil Diamond level super-awesome.

A former supernova of suck that has collapsed into a black hole of suck and now scientists debate whether any suck can escape or whether the suck is contained in an infinitely dense home studio of suck and blessedly never released?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:30 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


According to Amazon these are the tracks in question, on The Essential[sic] Billy Joel:

Piano Man
You're My Home
Captain Jack
The Entertainer
Say Goodbye To Hollywood
Miami 2017 (I've Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)
New York State Of Mind
She's Always A Woman
Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)
Only The Good Die Young
Just The Way You Are
Honesty
My Life
It's Still Rock And Roll To Me
You May Be Right
Don't Ask Me Why
She's Got A Way (Live)
Allentown
posted by Flashman at 9:33 AM on December 7, 2010


It was so awful that I would rather listen to "Jingle Bell Rock" in one ear and "Benny and the Jets" in the other. And I wouldn't do that on a dare.

Mayor Curley, that is the scariest thing I have ever read on the blue. Either one of those songs alone could give me a stroke, but together they'd be like a defective lethal injection contaminated with fire ants. Every time I remember being stuck in line at a supermarket while "Benny and the Jets" played I have a grand mal seizure and the stock market crashes.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:34 AM on December 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


My love for Billy Joel is completely unironic. [...] Our harmonies on The Longest Time were exquisite. No I didn't get laid in high school.

So... are you trying to imply that you have since?
posted by pracowity at 9:36 AM on December 7, 2010


I did get laid in high school, but not junior high.

When I was 14 in 1973-74, his Piano Man album was sort of my own private Highway 61 Revisited. Big songs about big things, passionately presented and performed. How can something like Captain Jack or The Ballad of Billy The Kid not matter, absolutely?

But then 1976 came along. I was 17 and sitting in row 3 for Mr. Joel's big deal show at Vancouver's Queen Elizabeth Theatre. The Stranger was at the top of the charts. It promised to be a transcendent evening. But it wasn't. It was lame, flat, overwrought, underwhelming, one of the greater disappointments of my young life. In person, up close, Billy Joel who I had championed for years, sucked. And there was no getting around it.

I've had a hard time listening to him ever since without feeling compelled toward at least imaginary violence. But Stop In Nevada's still pretty nice.
posted by philip-random at 9:40 AM on December 7, 2010


sdrawkcab: "Here's the quote I think tzikeh is thinking of (well, it's the quote I was thinking of): ...I am, as I've said, merely competent. But in an age of incompetence, that makes me extraordinary."

It's from his 1993 Berklee Commencement Address.

Interesting! I wonder if he used stuff from his history of interviews when he put that address together.

I know it wasn't that address from which I got the quote, because a) I don't recognize the rest of the address, and b) the interview I saw--well, was video, for one thing--also included Joel relating a story about being in a cab in Germany. The cabbie recognized him, and was, at first, extremely happy to have him in his cab--big fan and all. Then the cabbie started badmouthing the Jews (don't remember how the conversation morphed to that). And I remember Joel talking about how he was overcome with rage, and shouted "Ich bin ein Juden!" at the driver, who immediately pulled over, and Joel got out of the cab. I remember that because I was like, dude speaks German! (Later, of course, I realized that that wouldn't be a particularly difficult phrase to put together even if he didn't speak German, but it was surprising to me because I wasn't expecting foreign languages in an interview with Billy Joel, you know?)
posted by tzikeh at 9:41 AM on December 7, 2010


I like Billy Joel the way I like Rush. By that I mean, I really don't, but if one of his songs happens to come on the radio I sing along and I'm generally glad to hear it. But once it ends, I just don't really need it in my life until the next random occurrence.

And remember, folks, one of MeFi's favorite members appears in one of Mr. Joel's videos.

He is, after all, only human.
posted by bondcliff at 9:45 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


It reflects well on Joel that the result is noise. Do the same to all Katy Perry songs, and the result is a slightly louder Katy Perry song.
posted by kurumi at 9:46 AM on December 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


Sorry haters, but you will never convince me that this duet does not totally rock.
posted by Servo5678 at 9:51 AM on December 7, 2010


Or Nickelback?
posted by Flashman at 9:53 AM on December 7, 2010


Don't threaten me.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 9:54 AM on December 7, 2010


So... are you trying to imply that you have since?

Not to brag, but TWICE!
posted by ND¢ at 10:23 AM on December 7, 2010


I once got into a flamewar with Billy Joel on my site. He included "fuck you" in every one of his comments and he cleared up the Super Bowl Auto-Tune debacle. Even my sister had to step in to explain things. It was one of the most absurd threads, but Billy Joel is okay in my book.
posted by ed at 10:31 AM on December 7, 2010 [21 favorites]


I still like Billy Joel, a lot of his songs hold up for me, I wouldn't pay the insane ticketmaster prices to see him in concert or anything, but he wrote some damn good catchy pop songs.
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:35 AM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Every time I go to Madison Square Garden to see the Knicks (which is not nearly as often as I'd like) I always look up into the rafters to see the banners with retired numbers of the great Knicks like Clyde Frasier & Willis Reed and then I look over to the other end of the arena and see Billy Joel & Elton John's names hanging opposite.

I may only like, in passing, a few of their tunes but they will always have my admiration for having their banners hanging opposite Patrick Ewing & et al. A rare achievement and one I'd perform pretty unspeakable acts to attain...
posted by i_cola at 10:41 AM on December 7, 2010


Every time I remember being stuck in line at a supermarket while "Benny and the Jets" played I have a grand mal seizure and the stock market crashes.

Try being stuck in line at a supermarket while "Don't Cry Out Loud" or "I've Never Been to Me" played. Then talk to me about grand mals.
posted by blucevalo at 10:41 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've never been to me [with lyrics]
posted by philip-random at 10:50 AM on December 7, 2010


RESPECT
posted by palacewalls at 10:52 AM on December 7, 2010


Reading that list it is pretty much the songs I put on when I am the last person at the bar 2am on a tuesday. When they are done I know its time and I drain my beer and have my last shot and head home.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:10 AM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I liked Billy Joel until he lost his mind due to the drug abuse and did stupid shit like firing Doug. But degeneratate junkies will always turn on their friends...
posted by mikelieman at 11:13 AM on December 7, 2010


I once got into a flamewar with Billy Joel on my site.

Oh man, that's beautiful. *wipes tear*
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:15 AM on December 7, 2010


Flagged as noise.

>.>
posted by Night_owl at 11:23 AM on December 7, 2010


This needs to be cut down to 3:05
posted by mikepop at 11:34 AM on December 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


I've never been to me [with lyrics]

OH MY SWEET BABY JESUS, why did I click on that link?

Don't make me bring out the Bertie Higgins, phillip-random...
posted by steambadger at 11:44 AM on December 7, 2010


Sometimes you want to listen to a certain kind of music that elicits a certain type of emotion and Mr. Joel has enough emotion to spare. Dude's works got me through a crazy painful breakup recently so I'm grateful.

I could see how some folks could see a lot of his work as cloying pop, and we can agree to disagree, but I believe him when he says he writes songs for himself. If only because it explains the delicious awkwardness.
posted by Skwirl at 11:56 AM on December 7, 2010


I once got into a flamewar with Billy Joel on my site.

Hmm. It looks like he did start it after all.
posted by pracowity at 12:13 PM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Being from Long Island, I have noticed what I call the "Billy Joel Line". By this I mean inside of this line there is a non-zero chance that you will hear billy Joel on the radio, outside of this line there is very little chance of hearing any of his music.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 12:30 PM on December 7, 2010


WHY DID I CLICK ON THAT LINK?
I did notice that if you cover both ears with the palms of each hand, and press real hard, you could actually make out his voice rambling unintelligent things.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 12:37 PM on December 7, 2010


I have it on good authority that the key to the Wikileaks insurance file is buried in there.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:41 PM on December 7, 2010


Say what you will about Billy Joel, but two of the most entertaining concerts I've ever been to were Billy Joel shows. Liked his music when I was a kid, found it kind of meh as I got older, but that man one can put on one HELL of a show when he wants to. Is he MOR pop? Yes, but he doesn't put on airs about himself and genuinely likes what he does and likes to see people have a good time. Would that some other artists whose legacy is acclaimed more than Joel's gave a shit about entertaining an audience the way he does (*glares at Bob Dylan*)
posted by KingEdRa at 12:56 PM on December 7, 2010


Funny how his best song ("Summer, Highland Falls") is not on his essential hits album.
posted by Ike_Arumba at 1:02 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure I didn't hear his Opus 8, Suite for Piano in there.
posted by Anything at 1:36 PM on December 7, 2010


I didn't care about Billy Joel one way or the other then I met too many people from Long Island all at once when I went to school. That made me hate Billy Joel for a while. They loved Billy Joel way too much and played him way too often. These days I like Billy Joel just fine. I don't listen to the radio and I don't go to terrible bars with people that tuck in Met's jerseys to dockers. I can listen to billy joel when I so choose; close enough to, but not quite, never. And when I do I like him a lot.
posted by I Foody at 1:37 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love Billy Joel. It's a good thing I do, because any time you go to my favorite dive bar you will hear Piano Man.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:08 PM on December 7, 2010


Thank God that was available in HD.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 3:21 PM on December 7, 2010


Can anyone explain why Billy Joel has become so reviled within the past 5 or so years? Like a couple other posters, I don't regularly put on Billy Joel or have any real desire ever to hear his music, but a lot of his songs are well-written and catchy, and if they come on the radio while I'm driving or I hear them in a store or something, I'm much more likely to hum along than reflexively gag. He's always seemed like a pretty talented, if extremely commercial, songwriter to me. Guess I just don't understand the Kenny G-level derision.
posted by decoherence at 3:44 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


YaY - new ringtone! Hail Satan!
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 4:03 PM on December 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


That's a very good question, decoherence. I don't really get the hate I see here either.

I do know that it sounds a LOT like the sort of snotty and superior remarks I would make to my little sister about her favorite bands... back when we were, like, not grown up or anything. I was older, and clearly my tastes were superior, so anything she enjoyed must therefore be crap. And thus in need of being shat upon heavily.

I unironically have always liked Billy Joel. I still count the day a combination of my laziness, messiness, and inattention caused my cassette copy of Greatest Hits Volume I and II to get sucked out of its case and eaten by the carwash vacuum cleaner as a VERY dark day. I was so broke I couldn't pay attention at the time, and it took me weeks to replace that album. (Dark ages, you see. No Napster or Emule. Hard to believe we survived back then at all.)

The haters can go suck it, yeah. After all, we all know that their favorite bands suck. Amirite?
posted by John Smallberries at 4:51 PM on December 7, 2010


So many faces in and out of my life
Some will last
Some will just be now and then
Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes
I'm afraid it's time for goodbye again
Say goodbye to Hollywood
Say goodbye, my baby
Say goodbye to Hollywood
Say goodbye, my baby
posted by bwg at 5:44 PM on December 7, 2010


This is a great thread to share my Billy Joel anecdote, because it's one of my favorite stories EVAR. On St. Patty's Day 2009, we had a structure fire that morning, and I went home and took a nap until I went to one of my friend's epic parties. So I'm at this party with all these other firemen, and random people from Long Island that are all 20 years older than I, and my buddy has this bar. In his house. And I am sitting at the bar, shithammered, and we're asking "WHO THE FUCK IS ALICE?!" and I'm talking massive amounts of shit to this New Yorker that used to be a fighter pilot or something, and "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" starts playing, and he and I begin this massive argument on whether "Scenes..." or "The Stranger" was a better song off of the album of the same name. I was convinced "The Stranger" was a better song.

Later, sober, I listened to the album. And he was right.

I wanted to tell him this past year, but I got into the moonshine before I could find him.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 7:34 PM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would like to see Billy Joel and Elton John tour together again, but this time with Billy Joel playing a grand piano with Elton John lying on top of it and singing like Michelle Pfeifer did in The Fabulous Baker Boys.
posted by Daddy-O at 8:37 PM on December 7, 2010


MetaFilter: Buncha haters - Ack ack ack ack ack
posted by Jaybo at 8:40 PM on December 7, 2010


My wife and I were hiking in Wyoming and came across some very clear and very fresh signs of a big brown bear in the area. We had been told to make lots of noise so that you we didn't surprise a brown bear. We decided to sing songs, but it was hard to think of any great number of full length songs that we both knew and could kind of sing.

Let's just say that the brown bear stayed well the fuck away from our renditions of the Bard of Long Island's songbook.
posted by Mid at 9:01 PM on December 7, 2010


Hah, I like how there's a full minute of just Captain Jack at the end.

My Billy Joel anecdote: A few years ago I did a summer program at Berklee, and his daughter Alexa was in one of my ensembles. And then he and Christie Brinkley came to see us play at the end! So yeah basically Billy Joel heard a song that I wrote and then he clapped, awesome
posted by danb at 9:32 PM on December 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Can anyone explain why Billy Joel has become so reviled within the past 5 or so years?

I'm saying this in the spirit of answering the question and genuinely hope to God I don't find myself in a serious argument about Billy Joel, because I once did, I once had drunken (surprise) argument about the merits of Piano Man which I won and I don't think I can do better than that in any argument, ever. I should probably just avoid taking positions for the rest of my life.

The answer, from my perspective: lyrical self-aggrandizement coupled with melodies that sound like they were ripped off from fifties songs then run through a computer program.

Don't get me started on Piano Man. I hear the phrase 'microphone smelled like a beer' and my stomach does a little flip.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:19 AM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Man, so much haterade in this post. Look, slam the guy for some crap lyrics and melodrama, but dammit, many of my best adolescent memories have Billy Joel songs as their backdrop for one reason or another. Piano Man is one of those songs which will live forever and remind me of many a fun time.

If that's the worst I can peg on Billy Joel, so be it. His music has made me smile over the years, so that makes him a-okay in my book.
posted by tgrundke at 4:46 AM on December 8, 2010


> Can anyone explain why Billy Joel has become so reviled within the past 5 or so years?

I can tell you authoritatively, as a kid who got into experimental music and punk in the '80s, that hating Billy Joel is by no means a recent phenomenon. Billy Joel is a popular music artist through and through.

He suffers a talent-as-curse phenomenon shared by many pop artists. He writes and performs memorable pop music that get a lot of airplay. This means you are frequently exposed to it, whether you want to or not. Most top-40 tracks only live like that for a few weeks, maybe a couple months, but Billy Joel's stuff has been a staple of programming on radio for decades now - possibly before you were born - it's sufficiently ubiquitous that you know the lyrics, you can sing along, and you can't help it.

And if it's a style of music you don't like, or if his voice isn't to your taste, or you're tired of it, it becomes easier to hate because it WILL come around on the radio again, on the store's music system again, on the diner's boombox again, on the soundtrack of some TV show again. And again. And you still don't want to listen to it, but you have to, so you try to tune it out or swallow your anger or do something to focus on your eggs and toast, but you're going to hear it again in a week or so; maybe it won't bug you that time, but sooner or later it will.

There is an inevitability of exposure to certain pop songs which is as much a part of the American cultural fabric as arguing about politics.

This isn't really Billy Joel's fault, in some sense - all he did was make some music and work hard to make it popular (not meaning to trivialize the effort that requires) - there was a point at which the continued programming and broadcasting of "Piano Man" was taken from his hands and became self-perpetuating. For all we know, maybe he can't stand the song any more either, but that's not relevant; it's his contribution to the culture, and it's his obligation to satisfy that demand.

So hating Billy Joel does not really mean hating Billy Joel, even if you think you are. You probably don't know the guy, or even know enough about him to judge him. You're hating the lack of control you have had over hearing Billy Joel for your entire life.
posted by ardgedee at 9:32 AM on December 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


... which in my case is all the more annoying because as early as 1976, I'd already grown grown simply, irreversibly tired of him: his voice, his melodies, his lame shtick. 34 years now I've been in this special hell. Thanks for putting it into context, ardgedee.
posted by philip-random at 10:02 AM on December 8, 2010


Let's call people who think that Billy Joel sucks MeFites, and let's call people who think Billy Joel is the greatest thing ever BJFans. Let's ignore everyone else.

MeFites don't hate Duran Duran or Billy Ocean or Tiffany or Def Leppard or most other acts. MeFites don't like the music, and they don't care. MeFites think the fans of those acts are idiots, so they don't care what those people think.

MeFites don't really hate Billy Joel. They hate BJFans. There are a lot of BJFans who are perfectly smart and reasonable. MeFites can't deal with smart, reasonable people thinking that music that is clearly inferior is great. MeFites think, "Haven't these BJFans every heard of Bob Dylan or the Ramones or Lou Reed? How can they think Billy Joel is as good as them?" MeFites know actual BJFans, because MeFites are smart, reasonable people, too. They do not like that other smart, reasonable people have differences of opinion than them. This makes them hate Billy Joel, because he has caused a rift with the smart, reasonable people who are BJFans.

Meanwhile, here is Billy Joel doing an imitation of 1975 Bruce Springsteen while he is onstage with 2009 Bruce Springsteen performing Born to Run. Joel takes the second verse around the 1:08 mark.
posted by flarbuse at 2:28 PM on December 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Odds are pretty good I'm going to like anyone who makes a strong case for Billy Joel, actually.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:13 PM on December 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Over the years I've distilled Billy Joel's music into a handful of tunes that I genuinely like and never get tired of hearing, and so they are on my iPod.

It's the same with most of the artists I listen to; some I enjoy almost everything they write, some I have but one track I dig.

So if you don't like Billy Joel, fine, but lay off the hate, because it's getting old.
posted by bwg at 5:18 PM on December 8, 2010


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