5 Worst Billy Joel Songs
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.
Rest Easy Eric Curran a.k.a M.C Krispy E
Almost every year for the past 6 years and on the same day, I’ve posted the same pic of me in the hospital during my temporary and untimely demise in 2015. A few weeks after I was back to “normal”, I asked Eric “Why’d you take the pics?” And he said, “I knew you would want to write about it if you lived.” Eric was right. Eric was often right and Eric always had my best interest at heart. I am going to miss my friend.
You ever meet someone and become friends immediately?! Well this was not the case with Eric. Before he was my manager at Morgan Stanley, I would often see this 6’4″, giant white guy walk up to the only black woman at work, say something then walk away without any hint of human emotion. Naturally I thought he was a jerk until I asked her “Yo, is that dude bothering you?” She laughed and proceeded to tell me he was a great person, which I ultimately got to experience first hand. Little did I know this Italian from Staten Island was more Brooklyn than most Brooklynites.
Eric was not with the shits!! If there were ever someone who lived their life in direct, honest and no uncertain terms, that would be Eric. He would ask me questions at work like “Why are the other consultants making more money than you?” I knew the answer to that question and so did he. Eric then proceeded to increase my salary by 15K. After arguing with all our managers that “You need to hire Alfred!”, they eventually did 1 year prior to the 2015 incident. In the hospital, one of my friends asked me, “What if you didn’t have health insurance when this happened?” I would be in debt for the rest of my life is the obvious answer. I still am in debt for the rest of my life but at least, it is to those who made sure I had a more enjoyable life and for that, I will gladly repay.
My mom loved to tell me the story of how she met Eric. After they told her I was going to be in the ICU for some time, she told the doctor “Well I’m not going anywhere.” She then hears a voice from that back of the room that says “Well I’m not going anywhere either!” That was Eric and in true form, he was at that hospital every single day until I was discharged.
Eric passed away in December 2021 of stage 4 cancer. After feeling faint on his way to my bbq, he went to get checked out and was diagnosed. During the past 5 years, Eric lost his mom, twin brother and dad. I can’t even begin to imagine what that must have felt like but I’m glad that pain he was feeling is no more.
From being my manager to my business partner, writer, book editor, artistic director, and most importantly, my friend, I am going to miss you MC Krispy E a.k.a “Enrique Pollazo!” And although you told me Enrique means Henry in Spanish and not Eric, it was too late!
Sidebar. The day I was discharged, while everyone was deciding what was best for me, no one had remembered that I would need clothes in order to leave the hospital. Eric shows up (unasked) with all the clothes I had on the day I coded, laundered and ready to go. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve friends like this but i need to keep doing it! Sidebar complete.
Rest in Peace Eric. “Be Good.”
Writing Your First Book / Should I Self Publish?
I had the distinct pleasure of participating in a panel discussion on writing your first book, presented by the Harlem chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Alongside Jim St. Germain, Author – A Stone of Hope: A Memoir and Dr. Keneshia Nicole Grant, Author – The Great Migration and the Democratic Party: Black Voters and the Realignment of American Politics in the 20th Century. We opined on pain points, benefits and strategies regarding our inaugural voyages into authorship. Feel free to watch for your self and I hope this provides some insight to all those looking to make the same voyage. Enjoy!
What the NFT is a BEEPLE?
On March 11 this year, the digital artist Beeple sold a collage of digital images from his “Everydays” series for nearly 70 million dollars as an NFT, or non-fungible token. And if that sentence confuses you, you’re not alone.
A non-fungible token is a unit of data on a digital ledger called a blockchain, where each NFT can represent a unique digital item, and thus they are not interchangeable. NFTs can represent digital files such as art, audio, video, and other forms of creative work. While the digital files themselves are infinitely reproducible, the NFTs representing them are tracked on their underlying blockchains and provide buyers with proof of ownership.” – Wikipedia
Still confused? Let the artist himself explain it, and learn how he went from NFT newbie to making the third most expensive artwork by a living artist in three months. Not to suggest Beeple is an overnight success. The “Everydays” series alone involved creating a piece of art every day since May 1, 2007 – and he hasn’t missed a day.
Check out some of Beeple’s amazing and controversial work below.