Strictly ’70’s Joel

Thanks to the hit comedy movie Step Brothers, the phrase “We do strictly 80’s Joel” floats around. I think about it all the time when I hear the differences in Joel’s music between the two decades.

It’s great to hear “For the Longest Time” once in a while, but I’m here to tell you that 70’s Joel deserves all the attention. Call me sappy, but you can’t compete with the gut-wrenching emotion of Billy Joel’s earliest tracks. I’ve been especially hooked on his first album lately – Cold Spring Harbor.

Legend has it that the Cold Spring Harbor LP was accidentally mastered at a slightly higher speed, making his voice sound a bit like a chipmunk – Joel’s own description. On the upside, it was remastered in 1983 at the correct speed. Downside? A lot of the original orchestration was removed.

Either way, this album reveals a side of Billy Joel that the strictly 80’s fans will never see. It includes an instrumental piece simply titled “Nocturne” – a daring thing to release on his first solo album, but a demonstration of musicianship. Then there’s the track “Tomorrow is Today”. It’s derived from a suicide note written by Joel. You can just picture Joel at the piano singing this gospel-inspired song about how there’s no hope in tomorrow. Let’s just say it’s a little heavier than Uptown Girl.

Other tracks you need to hear from Cold Spring Harbor:

She’s Got a Way – This video includes him making fun of his “Chipmunk” voice on Cold Spring Harbor

You Can Make Me Free – You’d probably never hear it in a concert, but I’m a huge fan. It evens out the heaviness of Tomorrow is Today.

Everybody Loves You Now – Included on his first live album “Songs in the Attic” (1981). I think it would fit perfectly on his Piano Man album, snarky and upbeat.

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~ by hannahkuelbs on January 21, 2013.

2 Responses to “Strictly ’70’s Joel”

  1. Are you taking a contemporary music history class? Interesting comments about the Billy Joel songs.

    What are you working on for your senior recital?

  2. Carol, I’ve just always been a fan of Billy Joel and was fascinated by what I discovered about his first album!

    I will be playing Sposalizio by Liszt, The “Little A Major” Sonata by Schubert, Allegro Barbaro by Bartok, and (hopefully) a Prelude and Fugue.

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