Don’t you love that moment when a song explains everything going on in your life?
Goosebumps run through your body as the familiarity flows into your ears.
For me, Billy Joel is one of the best artists to listen to. Waking up Sunday
mornings as a kid, I could hear Billy Joel playing and the aroma of pancakes and bacon drifting into my room. I grew up with Joel and continue to listen years later.
One of his songs, “Vienna,” from the album “The Stranger,” made me think
deeply about my own life and re-evaluate views and goals I have. While listening to this
song I feel a wave of relief and happiness and the song’s meaning grows in my heart. It was written after Joel returned from Vienna, Austria visiting his father.
Another amazing aspect of Joel’s music is the instruments he incorporates within
his songs. Joel plays instruments varying from piano and guitar to lower key instruments
like the harmonica, keyboard, accordion, and organ. Each new song I hear has an instrument included within the song that completely throws me off guard. While listening, I turn my headphones up, wanting the music to surround me almost as if it’s
overpowering anything else in my life at that moment.
The album “Piano Man,” his second album, was released in 1973 and contained 10 hit tracks. “Travelin’ Prayer,” the first song on the album, includes a guitar, piano and banjo. Joel writes all his own music and I admire him for singing about a huge variety of subjects, many of which I haven’t experienced yet.
The songs he wrote are each meaningful in a completely different way, giving me an entirely new emotion for each. As I sing along to Joel’s songs, I can feel myself getting so lost in his music. In “Travelin’ Prayer,” Joel tells a story of how his “baby” is far across the sea. While singing, he is praying to the Lord that she’ll be safe until she’s home with him.
The story of a man fully loving another and praying for her safe return seems uncommon these days. The fact that Joel’s music is still relevant while being written 40 years ago is impressive.
Some of his songs take a more serious route and address serious problems like
the song “Captain Jack,” also off “Piano Man.” The song was written while Joel
was searching for inspiration in his apartment and saw kids buying heroin off a dealer who was called Captain Jack. This song is still relevant, with drug use still rampant in the world.
Joel stopped recording and toured for years, including playing in a concert to benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy in December of 2012, which I would have killed to be at.
He announced that he’d be writing an autobiography, but later canceled plans saying the best expression of his life is and always will be his music. I will forever remember Billy Joel for his unique music and my kids will be hearing it Sunday mornings, as I make pancakes just as my father did for me.