Showing posts with label Billy Joel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Billy Joel. Show all posts

Sunday, 2 January 2011

My life - Billy Joel

Billy Joel wrote 'My life', released as a single in 1978, in reference to comedian Richard Lewis. He 'closed the shop, sold the house, bought a ticket to the west coast, now he gives them a stand up routine in LA'.

The single reached number 22 in the Dutch Top 40, number 12 in the UK singles chart and number 3 in the US Billboard Hot 100.

My collection: 7" single no. 4984
Found: Flea market, Leidschendam, January 2, 2011
Cost: 0,5 euro
Tracks: 'My life', '52nd street'

Friday, 9 April 2010

The downeaster Alexa - Billy Joel

Taken from Billy Joel's eleventh studio album 'Storm front', 'The downeaster Alexa' is the story of an impoverished fisherman in the Outer Lands and the surrounding waters who, like many of his fellow men, is finding it increasingly hard to make ends meet and keep ownership of his boat.

Alexa, the name of the fishing boat in the song, is the name of Billy Joel's daughter, Alexa Ray Joel. Joel does in fact own a Downeaster lobster/swordfish hybrid boat by the name Alexa, built on a Maine lobster boat hull.

My collection: 7" single no. 1263
Found: Disco Market, Den Haag, July 14, 1990
Cost: 2 guilders
Tracks: 'The downeaster Alexa' / 'And so it goes'

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Just the way you are - Billy Joel

'Just the way you are' is a love song from Billy Joel's 1977 album, 'The Stranger'. It was written as a birthday gift to Joel's first wife Elizabeth Weber. After they divorced, Joel said that when performing the song, he would imagine what he would eat for dinner or what he would do after the show, or even accidentally sing alternate lyrics written by Liberty DeVitto ('She took the dog, the house, the car').

The track features an alto sax solo by jazz artist Phil Woods, who replaced Richie Cannata (who played sax for most of the songs on The Stranger) when the latter's style of playing was deemed unfit for the song. The bossa nova style of the song was strongly encouraged by producer Phil Ramone. Joel has gone on record stating that he personally dislikes the song and was originally going to leave it off the album. However, at the request of both Linda Ronstadt and Phoebe Snow (both were recording in other studios in the same building at the time), Joel and Ramone agreed to leave it on the album.

My collection: 7" single no. 2030
Found: Sounds Familiar, London, October 19, 1998
Cost: 60p
Tracks: 'Just the way you are' / 'Get it right the first time'

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Leningrad - Billy Joel

This single was released when the Russian town St. Petersburg was still called Leningrad. The song was written by Billy Joel about a Russian clown named Viktor, whom he met while touring the Soviet Union in 1987. Throughout the song, major items of Viktor's and Joel's lives are compared to show the cultural difference of the United States of America and the Soviet Union.

'Leningrad' was taken from Joel's eleventh studio album 'Storm front' (1989) and managed to chart in the UK, the Netherlands and Germany, peaking at number 53, 15 and 14 respectively.

My collection: 7" single no. 1140
Found: Free Record Shop, Den Haag, January 6, 1990
Cost: 6 guilders
Tracks: 'Leningrad' / 'The times they are a changin' (live)'

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Goodnight Saigon - Billy Joel

'Goodnight Saigon' is perhaps Billy Joel's best known song, and if nothing else his most epic track. Starting out with chopper sounds and ending with the sound of crickets, a lot is happening in the track that lasts for almost seven minutes.

The lyric of the song depicts the situation and attitude of United States Marines beginning with their military training on Parris Island and in different aspects of Vietnam combat. The track appearing on Joel's 1982 album 'The nylon curtain' and was released as a single in spring 1982. It reached number 1 in the Dutch Top 40, number 29 in the UK singles chart and number 56 in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

My collection: 7" single no. 423
Found: Parkpop, Den Haag, June 29, 1986
Cost: 2 guilders
Tracks: 'Goodnight Saigon' / 'Where's the orchestra?'

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Piano man - Billy Joel

'Piano man' is a fictionalized retelling of real people Joel met during his days as a piano-lounge singer in Los Angeles, after the failure of his first album, 'Cold spring harbor'. At the time, Joel was trying to get out of a bad deal with the record company Family Productions, so, according to Joel, he was 'hiding out' at the bar, performing under the name Bill Martin while Columbia Records tried to get him out of the deal.

When the song was released as a single in 1975, it gave him his first hit: it peaked at number 25 in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

My collection: 7" single no. 1569
Found: All that music, Leiden, January 2, 1992
Cost: 4 guilders
Tracks: 'Piano man' / 'You're my home'

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Honesty - Billy Joel

'Honesty' was released in the summer of 1979 as the third single from Billy Joel's sixth studio album '52nd Street'. This album was actually the first album to be made commercially available on cd, when the new technology was released to the market in 1982.

It reached number 24 in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 28 in the Dutch Top 40. In the UK, the single did not chart.

My collection: 7" single no. 758
Found: All that music, Leiden, February 23, 1989
Cost: 3 guilders
Tracks: 'Honesty' / 'Half a mile away'

Sunday, 13 December 2009

All for Leyna - Billy Joel

Taken from Billy Joel's 1980 album 'Glass houses', 'All for Leyna' is the tale of someone who meets a girl names Leyna, and after a one night stand, becomes obsessed with her. At the time, Billy Joel sang his songs with a biting aggressiveness that made this track that much more attractive.

'All for Leyna' reached number 40 in the UK singles chart, but failed to chart in the Netherlands.

My collection: 7" single no. 1840
Found: Record fair, January 23, 1993
Cost: 2 guilders
Tracks: 'All for Leyna' / 'Close to the borderline'

Friday, 13 March 2009

We are the world - USA for Africa

After Band Aid had sold millions of copies worldwide with 'Do they know it's Christmas?', it was almost inevitable that American popstars would rise to the challenge and come up with their own charity single. 'We are the world' was the result: a single of an epic 6'22 minutes length which is fine for the first three minutes but then turns into a long, protracted death rattle of a song, with far too many artists claiming a few lines of their own to sing.

The lyric 'There's a choice we're making / we're saving our own lives' was originally written as 'There's a chance we're taking / we're taking our own lives'. It was rewritten when it was feared the original phrasing's first part might look like the artists are patting themselves on the back while the last part might suggest collective suicide.

The single became a worldwide number 1 hit, raising more money for emergency needs in Africa, where several countries were suffering from an unprecedented famine. Not much has changed in over thirty years though: Africa is still in need.

My collection: 7" single no. 3541
Found: La La Land, Den Haag, January 9, 2009
Cost: 1 euro
Tracks: 'We are the world' (USA for Africa) / 'Grace' (Quincy Jones)

Monday, 24 November 2008

Pressure - Billy Joel

Billy Joel is best known for his soppy ballads ('Honesty', 'Piano man', 'Leningrad') and his emotional anti-war statements ('Goodnight Saigon'). His work has not always been met with favourable criticism. I for one can't stand his 'Uptown girl' and 'River of dreams'. But 'Pressure' is the one song that defines Billy Joel's best work: well written, melodic and aggressive.

Throughout the eighties it was one of my favourite songs, one that I liked more than 'Goodnight Saigon' even. I bought my copy of the single in 1993, during a record fair in the Houtrusthallen in Den Haag. Those have since been torn down - a great loss.

My collection: 7" single no. 1985
Found: Record fair, Den Haag, October 17, 1993
Cost: 2 guilders
Tracks: 'Pressure' / 'Laura'
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