off topic: billy joel's life lessons

At the Super Bowl, Ben took his teammates to a piano bar and they were filmed singing "Piano Man" by Billy Joel. It makes total sense, pretty much everyone can remember the words and it's a great karaoke song to sing together. 

 Recently, I saw Hangover II  and two of Billy Joel’s songs were on the soundtrack, "Downeaster Alexa" and "Allentown." It got me thinking, maybe Billy Joel’s music will be re-discovered by today's youth. He stopped writing in 1993 but I think people are starting to realize he is one of the best US  rock era songwriter/performers we have ever had. Maybe only Smokey Robinson (who wrote My Girl for the Temptations) is on Joel’s level.

Then I went back and watched the documentary "The Last Play at Shea" which was all about Shea Stadium intertwined with Billy Joel’s last concert to close the stadium. For all the Beatle fans you probably know Shea Stadium was the first time the Beatles played in the US and the first stadium rock concert. Anyway, the Joel concert was back in 2008 and Paul McCartney, Tony Bennett, Garth Brooks,  John Mellencamp, Steven Tyler and others performed. If you hate the Mets you will have to overlook that  b/c you can't talk about Shea w/o the Mets. There's also a film of the concert, if you haven't seen them both are highly recommended! 


 And it got me thinking, you know Billy’s songs are almost all about everyday life. So many of his songs are telling a story and there are many great perceptions of everyday life. I used to know so many Brenda and Eddies, they were all over Brooklyn, Staten Island and North Jersey. So I decided to outline a lesson for life that every 15 year old will eventually learn, one way or the other. I italicized my favorite lines, my lessons are in bold and the name of the song is in paretheses. Maybe some others will post some song lyrics that tell a story or are just good. I had to leave out a lot of songs and slice the songs apart, it was just getting too long.

It's funny, Billy Joel wrote some of the most observant love songs ever yet he is divorced 3X. He even divorced Christie Brinkley, too bad he can't take his own advice on love:)  At the end of the day, if the Steelers can sing a Billy Joel song i don't feel weird about giving up props.

I hope you enjoy it! 

Don’t grow up too fast, be patient, life's not a sprint (Scenes From an Italian Restaurant)

Brenda and Eddie were the popular steadies
And the king and the queen of the prom
Riding around with the car top down and the radio on
Nobody looked any finer….Or was more of a hit at the Parkway Diner

We never knew we could want more than that out of life
Surely Brenda and Eddie would always know how to survive.

Well they got an apartment with deep pile carpets
And a couple of paintings from Sears
A big waterbed that they bought with the bread
They had saved for a couple of years
but they started to fight when the money got tight
And they just didn't count on the tears.

Son, there are three messages in this song. First, if you want to attract a lot of women be a musician/writer, there is no better way to attract women, NONE! Musicians are the only ones with more juice than sports stars or actors. The guy who wrote this song dated Elle MacPherson and Christie Brinkley at the same time b/c of a piano, he just started playing piano in some hotel lobby and looks up and there they are. Just like flies to honey!  

Second, don’t live your life with regrets, take chances. Finally, there are many lonely people in this world but if you don't f***up you will probably not be lonely. (Piano Man)

It's nine o'clock on a Saturday
The regular crowd shuffles in
There's an old man sitting next to me
Makin' love to his tonic and gin

He says, "Son, can you play me a memory
I'm not really sure how it goes
But it's sad and it's sweet and I knew it complete
When I wore a younger man's clothes."

Now John at the bar is a friend of mine
He gets me my drinks for free
And he's quick with a joke and he'll light up your smoke
But there's some place that he'd rather be
He says, "Bill, I believe this is killing me."
As his smile ran away from his face
"Well I'm sure that I could be a movie star
If I could get out of this place"

War is hell, it’s not anything like your video games (Goodnight Saigon)

We met as soul mates on Parris Island
We left as inmates from an asylum

And we were sharp, as sharp as knives
And we were so gung ho to lay down our lives

We came in spastic like tameless horses
We left in plastic as numbered corpses
And we learned fast to travel light
Our arms were heavy but our bellies were tight

 Be careful with hard drugs, especially heroin (Captain Jack)

Saturday night, and you're still hangin' around.
Tired of living in your one-horse town.
You'd like to find a little hole in the ground, for awhile.
So you go to the Village in your tie-dyed jeans.
And you stare at the junkies and the closet queens.
It's like some pornographic magazine… And you smile. ohohoho

But Captain Jack will get you high tonight,
And take you to your special island.
Captain Jack will get you by tonight.
Just a little push, and you'll be smilin'.

Your sister's gone out,she on a date.
You just sit at home and masturbate……

 Being angry at the world gets you nowhere fast (Angry Young Man)

And there's always a place for the angry young man,
With his fist in the air and his head in the sand.
And he's never been able to learn from mistakes,

He can't understand why his heart always breaks.
His honor is pure and his courage as well,
He's fair and he's true and he's boring as hell!
And he'll go to the grave as an angry old man.

 Embrace history, it helps give you perspective. George Santayana once said "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Truly perceptive and Billy Joel thought so too as he listed him in this song. (We Didn’t Start the Fire)

Eisenhower, vaccine, England's got a new queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye

Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac
Sputnik, Zhou Enlai, Bridge On The River Kwai

U2, Syngman Rhee, payola and Kennedy
Chubby Checker, Psycho, Belgians in the Congo

Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British Politician sex
J.F.K. blown away, what else do I have to say

Begin, Reagan, Palestine, Terror on the airline
Ayatollah's in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

Wheel of Fortune, Sally Ride, heavy metal suicide
Foreign debts, homeless Vets, AIDS, Crack, Bernie Goetz

Hypodermics on the shores, China's under martial law
Rock and Roller cola wars, I can't take it anymore

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
But we tried to fight it.

After college you are probably going to move away (Movin’ Out {Anthony’s Song})

Workin' too hard can give you
A heart attackackackackackack
You oughta know by now
Who needs a house out in Hackensack?
Is that all you get for your money?

And it seems such a waste of time
If that's what it's all about
Mama, If that's movin' up then I'm movin' out.

 But as you get older you may long to move back (NY State of Mind)

Some folks like to get away
Take a holiday from the neighborhood
Hop a flight to Miami Beach
Or to Hollywood
But I'm taking a Greyhound
On the Hudson River Line
I'm in a New York state of mindIt was so easy living day by day
Out of touch with the rhythm and blues
But now I need a little give and take
The New York Times, The Daily News

 Many blue collar industries are dying (Downeaster Alexa)

Well I'm on the Downeaster "Alexa"
And I'm cruising through Block Island Sound
I have charted a course to the Vineyard
But tonight I am Nantucket bound

We took on diesel back in Montauk yesterday
And left this morning from the bell in Gardiner's Bay
Like all the locals here I've had to sell my home
Too proud to leave I worked my fingers to the bone

I was a bayman like my father was before
Can't make a living as a bayman anymore
There ain't much future for a man who works the sea
But there ain't no island left for islanders like me

That’s why you need a college degree (Allentown)

Well we're waiting here in Allentown
For the Pennsylvania we never found
For the promises our teachers gave
If we worked hard….If we behaved.

So the graduations hang on the wall
But they never really helped us at all
No they never taught us what was real
Iron or coke, Chromium steel.

And we're waiting here in Allentown.
But they've taken all the coal from the ground
And the union people crawled awaaaaay aaaaaaaah

Center yourself, don’t get too high or too low (Summer, Highland Falls)

They say that these are not the best of times
But they're the only times I've ever known
And I believe there is a time for meditation
In cathedrals of our own
Now I have seen that sad surrender in my lovers' eyes
I can only stand apart and sympathize

For we are always what our situations hand us
It's either sadness or euphoria

Hard partying can't solve your problems, although temporarily it's a blast (I’ve Loved These Days)

Oh, we can only go so far on caviar and Cabernet.

We drown our doubts in dry champagne,
And soothe our souls with fine cocaine.

I don't know why I even care
We'll get so high and get nowhere.
We'll have to change our jaded ways
But I've loved these days.

Stay humble (Everybody Loves You Now)

Baby all the lights are turned on you
Now you're in the center of the stage
Everything revolves on what you do
Ah, you are in your prime; you've come of age

And you can always have your way somehow
But everybody loves you now

Heatbreak hurts like hell (And So it Goes)

In every heart there is a room
A sanctuary safe and strong
To heal the wounds from lovers past
Until a new one comes along

But if my silence made you leave
Then that would be my worst mistake
So I will share this room with you
And you can have this heart to break

And so it goes, and so it goes
And you're the only one who knows

But, new love is intoxicating (The Longest Time)

Oh, oh, oh…For the longest time
Oh, oh, oh….For the longest
If you said goodbye to me tonight
There would still be music left to write
What else could I do….I'm so inspired by you
That hasn't happened for the longest time

Work hard on your marriage you must keep romance alive (Scenes From an Italian Restaurant)

A bottle of white, a bottle of red,
Perhaps a bottle of rosé instead.
We'll get a table near the street
In our old familiar place
You and I - face to face hm, hm
A bottle of red, a bottle of white
It all depends upon your appetite
I'll meet you any time you want
In our Italian Restaurant.

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