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.
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.
How to Tell If You’re Motivated by Negativity
We hold in high regard the tactics that allow us to succeed while disregarding that those same tactics stop us from succeeding correctly. When you and everything around you is results oriented, how those results are obtained isn’t scrutinized when they probably should be. Seeing as how we can’t drug test for positive or negative motivators and no one really cares how you succeed as long as you are successful, why should you even care?
Well aside from your eventual therapist and the people who used to love you but have since left due to your unknowingly toxic behavior, your eventual cardiologist and pharmacist who will have to treat you for stress related illnesses, you should probably care also. If you are paying attention and observing the trail of emotional destruction left when using certain motivators, particularly fear and negativity, you would care much much sooner.
With that said, here are some hopefully helpful tips so you can identify and begin to correct.
1. When someone asks you what you want, you typically respond with what you don’t want. “What do you want for dinner?” “Well we had pizza yesterday so I don’t want that and I had Chinese for lunch so that’s out…” Process of elimination is time consuming and quite frankly, if you want pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you should have it. We’ll deal with health choices later. Right now, let’s focus on HOW you make choices in the first place.
2. The first thought that enters your mind after you say you want something are the reasons why it can’t be obtained. “I want to workout but I have no time. I want to pursue my interests but I don’t have the money.” Everything you currently have, you made the time and money for. It is possible for future aspirations as well.
3. The motivator is not the desired result, but the ails that might occur if that result is not obtained. “You better get an education or your friends will leave you behind.” “If I don’t catch the early train, my commute is gonna suck!” Or none of that may occur and you day could progress perfectly fine. Since you can’t recoup emotional capital already extended, better not to expend it at all.
4. You feel you need more in order to begin any task. You just really need to accept that you are enough.
5. You focus on any time frame other than the present. Speculating on future failures only brings you current stress. Speculating on past failures only brings you current stress. Now speculating on past or future successes may seem beneficial but the fact is, if you are speculating at all, you are probably not present and that is the main ingredient required for success anyway. So don’t speculate!!!
The root of all negativity is fear and when fear is your motivation, you will constantly need to be afraid in order to progress. When confidence is your motivation, all you ever need to progress is to remain present.
I wish you all success in everything you hope to accomplish.
Sidebar: Michal Jordan once stated that fear of failure motivated him to accomplish 6 NBA championships. My question to him would’ve been “How much more rings would you have had if confidence was your motivator and not fear?” Sidebar Complete.
Hip Hop Now
Here’s five acts doing their thing in the first installment of Hip Hop Now.
Chicago rapper Saba‘s new record Care For Me features Chance The Rapper on “Logout.”
From Everything is Fine, a collaboration between rapper/satirists Jean Grae and Quelle Chris, here’s “Zero.”
Tyler, the Creator stays weird and rhymes chicken nugget with fuckit on rap nugget “Okra.”
Dallas rapper Bobby Sessions lost his cousin to police violence and channels that energy into the controversial “Like Me.”
Rapper/actor A$AP Rocky samples Moby‘s “Porcelain” on “A$AP Forver.”