Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Billy and me

The perfect illustration contributed by reader Sid Garrison [via] [via]

Why don't you try actually listening to Billy Joel? His technique of songwriting is classically based and quite clever. You might find that you enjoy those ingenious 'earworms'.

After my post of yesterday, Anonymous, in the comments, makes a reasonable enough request, however I’m afraid I can never have a relationship with Billy, musical or otherwise, after he revealed himself in “Just The Way You Are” to be a passive/aggressive control freak.

Let’s analyze the lyrics:

Don’t go changing, to try and please me
You never let me down before
Don’t imagine you’re too familiar
And I don’t see you anymore
I wouldn’t leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times, I’ll take the bad times
I’ll take you just the way you are.

Sounds good, huh? Well this is just where he ropes you in because then he says:

Don’t go trying some new fashion
Don’t change the color of your hair
You always have my unspoken passion
Although I might not seem to care

What’s the message here? Don’t be creative? Stay your dowdy old self? I have a feeling this guy is jealous, afraid you might be too attractive to other men. And further (at least he lets you know this up front), he’s withholding. What fun, may I ask, is “unspoken passion” with a guy who “might not seem to care”? What’s in this for me?

But it gets worse.

I don’t want clever conversation
I never want to work that hard
I just want someone I can talk to
I want you just the way you are.

Oh great! Dumb yourself down for this guy who, since he views interesting conversation as hard work, may not be all that smart himself. Further, he just wants someone he can talk to—not someone who talks back. I suggest he get a cocker spaniel.

I need to know that you’ll always be
The same old someone that I knew
What will it take ‘til you believe in me
The way that I believe in you?

He wants you to be “the same old someone”? That’s appealing. And what will it take for you to believe in him? How about the freedom to change and grow, bleach your hair, join the Peace Corps, gain weight, lose weight, get a tattoo or another degree, and be whomever you want, whenever you want. How about the assurance that it’s not all about him?

I said I love you, and that’s forever
And this I promise from the heart
I could not love you any better
I love you just the way you are.

Girls, forewarned is forearmed. If you meet a guy who says this is his favorite song, run!

And lest you be thinking I don’t have a soft side, I leave you with this:

Who kicked a hole in the sky so the heavens would cry over me?
Who stole the soul from the sun in a world come apart at the seams?
Let there be love...


Anonymous said...

oh c'mon carol, don't tell me that piano man doesn't get to you. (in a good way.) at least a little bit...

Anonymous said...

Obviously your glass is half-empty.

Carol Diehl said...

Okay, Anonymous and C-Monster, I'll try to be more open-minded. But I do know, C-Monster, that the person who doesn't want "clever conversation" had better not hang out with you!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I'm with you - BILLY JOEL SUCKS!

Anonymous said...

Billy Joel sucks. 'Nuff said.

CAP said...

I thought the lyrics were saying don't try all these things just to impress him - but this is not to say don't try all these things to please yourself or others.

He is simply 'already and always' pleased with 'you'.

And as you know, coming from any piano man, he is already and always full of it.

CAP said...

Also, the Grammar Nazis have asked me to relay the point that Billy and I is the correct phrasing, although my feeling is that Me and Billy, would ring truer to your sentiments.

Carol Diehl said...

I dunno, CAP. How about "I and Billy"?

I tried to watch C-Monster's "Piano Man" video but could not deal.


Anonymous said...

Ha ha ha ha ha... Carol - you've assessed the true intention of the man's lyrics I think... He married a 23 year old who had never heard of him before... and perverted curiosity had me trolling the gossip sites:
Billy Joel's young wife, Katie Lee, whom he married in 2004 when she was 23 years old is rumored to be tired of him already. She has reportedly said, "“If that’s movin up then I’m movin out.” An insider told The National Enquirer:
“The marriage has turned into a nightmare for her - she misses her young friends, and she’s bored with Billy. When she first met him, she was an innocent kid - but she’s grown up and her friends say she thinks it’ts time to move on.”

Anonymous said...

Thank you! You've articulated everything I've ever thought about this song. I heard someone do a cover of it at a festival this weekend and was spluttering indignation at my long-suffering partner for a large chunk of the night afterwards. Poor man, he claimed it had never occurred to him to read it this way...

Faris said...

I like some of Billy Joel's melodies, but his lyrics are pretty terrible at times. Those lyrics are some of his worst, also in terms of uncreative writing.