Love You May Be Right; I May Be Crazy
posted by November 8 at 11:38 AMon
So yeah, I love Billy Joel.
Actually, I used to love Billy Joel. Now I cherish his music like a first kiss—an awkward memory that I’m happy to own, glad I got past, and hardly ever trot out anymore. There’s a reason that his peers—most significantly Springsteen—bask in continued critical praise and constantly refreshed fan adoration, which I get into in the story.
Megan quoted the piece’s main point in her post below, but here’s the part that most interested me:
Talking to friends and colleagues about this story, I learned that many people my age had an early period of Joel appreciation (surprising), though nobody’s rocking Glass Houses on their iTunes (not surprising).
It’s true. Several people—people you know, people who write for The Stranger about far, far different types of music than Billy Joel—had a thing for him way back when. Since writing the piece and talking about it further, more former fans have come out of the woodwork. But everyone agrees: They’re not listening to his music on an even semi-regular basis. The people I know who do are musically, um, unsophisticated, to put it nicely.
I look back at those songs, like the one this post takes its title from, and I love them, but only in a kitschy, nostalgic way. They’re teriffic songs, but they work better as artifacts than art. At one point in my life, he was an obsession. Then I grew out of Billy Joel.
Something I didn’t get into in the story: How much of my generation’s broken love affair with the guy has to do with Christie Brinkley? Joel was this hound dog-eyed goofball singing about Italian restaurants, as suburbanly awkward as anybody, and then he married the most beautiful woman in the world. He was slingshotted into idolization for that reason as much as his rock star status. Then she dropped him and he was just a regular schmuck all over again. Pretty disillusioning. But all Joel ever wanted from his music was to bag him a supermodel, so he succeeded on that front. His return to realness had just as much potential to lock in some cred as to cast him as a loser, but it didn’t work out that way.