Monday, March 21, 2011

WHERE HAVE YOU GONE, BILLY JOEL

Where have you gone, Billy Joel? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you. Doesn't it? I do, anyways. Who else can make sense of this world in a way that will linger? That will allow us to sing of our horrors with a melodic fresh vibe? Only the Piano Man, who proclaimed with such verve that the fire in our lives was not lit from his flame.

Is WE DIDN'T START THE FIRE the oddest tune that's been written since all songs have been sung? A collection of names and events, linked only by eras. From the fifties to eighties, a miniature history of much that has come to define how we look at our lives.

Doesn't it? No? Am I the only one out there who wishes that all life and its options could be stripped down to a size that might fit into some song? Joel did it once; he can do it again. Think of it: decades of existence, encapsulated. Right there, in your mouth. You can lip-synch to those words and navigate down through decades. All within three minutes. A few generations' touchstones and highlights, aggressors and heroes. Beneath your tongue. Manageable. Some might argue that I love this small song because it brings back my youth. When life had a limit, three minutes and change. When history could all cram into a chorus, plus verses. When the world was as small as my own fragile hopes.

So, Billy. Please. I need someone like you to arise one more time and make life once again a song we can hum. How is one supposed to make sense of a phrase like 'Operation Odyssey Dawn'? Is that the name of a new album by BOSTON, or a military action designed to inspire a rising new day of sheer hopeful delusion? Who thinks of these slogans that align with our wars? I need Mr.Joel to make all this a ditty.

He left off with 'rock and roll the Cola Wars, I can't take it any more!' Yet he's still around, and has been, for the past two decades; he's taken it, endured, evolved. He needs to rhyme the Internet and September 11th and FACEBOOK and TWITTER; he must us give some sense that life is still just a jingle. Otherwise, I might be left with the notion that some things in our world are too large and opaque to squeeze into a single. And I'm not sure that I want to believe that.

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