Listen to the podcast above (with song clips) or read below.
Billy Joel wrote a lot of songs back when he was writing and recording. These days he’s pretty much touring exclusively, playing the same old songs to the same old crowd that eats it up regardless. I know he’s been adding deeper cuts to recent shows, and a few interesting covers, but you still have to sit through the usual hits to get to songs like Zanzibar. I’d prefer a new record, which I’ll probably never get. And I don’t mean piano concertos. I want new rock and roll songs, even if he has to lower the key. I wanna see Rick Rubin lock Billy in a room with a piano until he writes twelve new songs. Maybe invite past band-mates like Russell Javors, Richie Cannata and Liberty DeVitto to flesh things out. This, of course, will never happen, and that sucks.You know what else sucks? These five songs. Well, maybe sucks is the wrong word. Or maybe it’s totally the right word for at least some of these 5 Worst Billy Joel Songs.
5. This Is the Time
Let’s start with the most divisive one. There are fans that absolutely adore this song. It’s somebody’s wedding song, I’m sure of it. Maybe yours. Or maybe you remember slow dancing at the prom to this one and That’s What Friends Are For by Dionne and Friends. It could be that it makes you nostalgic for that thick head of hair you had in 1986. Me? I can’t listen to it. I could hardly listen to it for this article. Granted, David Brown does some nice Hendrixy guitar throughout, but even that can’t save this saccharine snoozefest from the dollar bin. This is like a watered/dumbed down version of the much better I’ve Loved These Days (and to a lesser extent, Souvenir). No joke; they used this as the theme song for an Italian soap opera.
4. I Go to Extremes
Uh oh. I’m gonna get a lot of hate mail for this one. And as far as songs on this list go, this is the best one. Still, it kinda sucks. I mean, the energy is good, the chord changes are nice, but that’s where it all ends. This song and video feels like the last dying breath of the eighties. Man, I am being harsh but… come on, these are some of the worst lyrics he’s ever put to paper (apart from some of the choices below). The stuff he wrote for Christie Brinkley was never his most cerebral work, to put it mildly. Speaking of mild, Paul Anka covered this song.
3. Shades of Grey
You may be conflicted about this song. It certainly has a harder, albeit safe, edge. Yeah, it’s inspired by Cream, but it sounds more like a muzak version. The verses have a nice seventies bounce, but man, that chorus. “Black and white is how it should be, but shades of gray are the colors I see.” Holy shit, did Christie write this? No wonder you gave up on writing songs. Also, please write more songs.
2. Modern Woman
It was 1986. I was wearing red shorts that were way too short and a Hawaiian shirt that was getting a little snug. My pal and I waited patiently for the new Billy Joel song on the radio. This was the follow up album to Innocent Man, a genre album I respected, but I wanted something new and edgy. Instead I got this. Yeah, it moves, but in a Bette Midler housewifey kinda way, which is no surprise since it was written for Ruthless People. Anyway, my friend and I were thoroughly disgusted. Then we heard Matter of Trust and felt a little better about the pending record. Though, let’s be honest, Matter of Trust hasn’t exactly aged well, either. This song sounds like it should be played over a montage of Delta Burke trying on different outfits for a big night in Eightiesville.
1. You’re Only Human (Second Wind)
At number one is this utterly useless track. It’s one of two new songs released with the multi-million selling Greatest Hits double album in 1985. The other was While the Night Is Still Young, which, while borrowing from Until the Night, still kicks a little ass. This one, however, smells like a little ass. It’s like he gave up using real instruments and tossed his song writing credentials out the window. In full disclosure, the fact that this (terrible) video was filmed on Staten Island and referenced It’s a Wonderful Life was something of a thrill for my 15 year old self. Yet, it’s an anti-suicide song that manages to sound more like a Depends commercial. Imagine telling someone about to kill themselves “you’re only human, you’re supposed to make mistakes.” Is this is the same guy that wrote Captain Jack? Ugh. And it broke the top ten!? Jeezus, those were different times.
Lucky for us he’s got a whole catalog of better material, though you may want to focus on his seventies output when he could do no wrong. Now I know a lot of you are steaming mad right now. You don’t want to hear some ding dong criticize the songs you love. Between you and me, that’s the whole point of a list like this. To make you angry. I hope it worked. Now go listen to The Stranger or 52nd Street and get over it.
OPEN LETTER TO CONGRESS
Dear Members of Congress,
The tipping point is here and we need to put aside our political differences to save this country right now! Silence and remaining behind party lines is no longer an option. A unified address by our elected officials in Congress on the issue of police brutality and equality under the rule of law is required to begin the healing process as well as ensure the future of this nation.
There are three steps that immediately need to be taken to bring this to fruition. The arrest and charging of the three remaining individuals involved in the death of George Floyd must occur as the first step of good faith. The second step requires clear and transparent action items stated to the public in order to address the issues at hand. Those action items should include:
- The revision of Qualified Immunity to specifically address the problematic assertion that “Qualified Immunity means that government officials can get away with violating your rights as long as they violate them in a way nobody thought before – Institute of Justice“
- The reforming of Civilian Review Boards with the purpose of increasing the decision-making abilities on the disposition and discipline of police officers.
The third step is the creation and funding of a systemic racism task force with the goal of dismantling systemic racism.
- Accelerating judicial system reform
- Equating the public education system
- Eliminating redlining
These are just the preliminary steps that will begin the framework of the changes we need enacted to better the experiment called the United States.
I look forward to seeing a response in the form of action on the behalf of the citizens of this country.
Thank You Tulsa Oklahoma / Generational Responsibility
Every generation has an unintended mission as it relates to the liberation of their people. That mission is based on the circumstances and is revealed either midway through or after that generation’s mission is complete.
Through land ownership and intellect, the post slavery generation (Reconstruction/Tulsa – Black Wall Street) revealed what was possible if America dared engage on a level playing field. They did an EXCELLENT job!!
Through newly established media, The Civil Rights generation exposed the world to racial injustice and an undelivered promise of liberty and justice. They did an EXCELLENT job!
The Hip Hop generation reinvigorated the notion of wealth, ownership, propagated messages of inequality and exposed the daily tribulations of Black American life to ALL of America. It was my generation’s obligation to gather overwhelming empathy and build an irrefutable emotional case against racial injustice. We did and EXCELLENT job!!
Through technology, Millennials unintended obligations seems to be gathering overwhelming and irrefutable visual and literal evidence against racial injustice AND expose it via social and regular media. They are doing an EXCELLENT job!!
Now that a select few have assimilated, gained some empathy and chosen to walk alongside us, they are also experiencing similar atrocities and destroying the sentiment that prior instances of injustice were one-offs and not systemic injustice.
As today marks the 99th Anniversary of the Tulsa Oklahoma Race Riots, I would like to acknowledge those who have shown us what was possible post slavery in America. There is a HUGE difference between returning home and trying to find a home in the first place. The candle lit by that generation is the same beacon that will navigate our eventual return. THANK YOU!!
Sidebar; All generations have had a separate and unintended but equally important mission. What is common is that all generations have had to endure to even make minor progress. We have no choice but to do the same. Sidebar Complete.
Realigning Your Moral Compass / Don’t Be Humble
Remember when “keeping it on the low” was a high-valued asset in the lunchrooms of yesterdays past? It was a glorious and magical time where your ability to not divulge information or “brag” would lend you the trust and respect of all… except maybe the person who wanted said info. Conversely, being known as conceited or loose lipped oft resulted in social suicide. Once you understood and practiced the basic tenets of social operation, you were free to roam about the country. Then along came this thing called life and what was once generally accepted social order now requires constant questioning. Oh to be young again!
These days, you may find yourself at a moral crossroads where keeping information “on the low” could result in literal career suicide and stagnation of financial growth. I’ve seen coworkers get promoted because they would inform the entire world of every menial task accomplished like closing the fridge door in the pantry. I’ve also seen coworkers not be given any credit and as far as to be laid off because no one was aware of their value or responsibilities. Who knew life was gonna be so complicated (besides every single adult?) Of course, “keeping it on the low” a.k.a humility is just one of many self-inflicted moral codes we use to navigate for a majority of our lives. There are many others (selfish, greedy, manipulative, etc…) Now what if you hadn’t assigned a negative or positive value to these sentiments from the outset? Would you still be so hesitant to engage in their practices?
For the sake of proving my point, What if these “negative” moral codes were simply tools that could not be judged but simply used? Is it manipulative to convince someone to put a gun down and not shoot up a room full of people? Was Winston Churchill being manipulative in his efforts to convince the U.S to join WWII? Is it greedy to understand how much financial assets are required to provide the lifestyle you deem worthy for you and your family then pursue accordingly? Is it selfish to know when to tune the world out to achieve a goal that will be to the worlds eventual betterment?
The world is grander than whatever lunchroom your adolescent moral GPS was manufactured in and navigated you through. Once you graduate to encounter those larger moral obstacles, you rapidly realize that what got your through it before may not get you past it now if you cannot realign your moral code. It seems once one masters a particular set of skills, they immediately become obsolete as life advances everyone to the next level. What’s more likely is a majority of our decision making tools (like morals) are choice and should be treated as such and continuously revisited. Good Luck.
Sidebar; To the aspiring entrepreneurs keeping their amazing ideas “on the low” until they blow up, you are delaying your own successes. To those who find the pursuit of money / capitalism as greedy /evil, you are delaying your own gratitude. Sidebar complete.