A Frightening Interpretation of Billy Joel’s Discography

Posted: November 17, 2010 by kaostheory in Informative
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Billy Joel. American classic. Musical Hall-of-Famer (or should be, we didn’t bother to check). Alcoholic, although we can’t judge because we basically treat a 750 of tequila like an oversized baby bottle. Yet his career will always be defined as the Washington Generals to Elton John’s Harlem Globetrotters. Joel has Piano Man, John has Your Song. And Crocodile Rock. And Candle In The Wind. It seems like no matter what Billy does – marries a supermodel but then Elton comes out as gay, tries to kill himself with furniture polish but Elton is knighted – he is destined to be second. Somehow, however, we believe he knew before he even started that it would be that way and thus battles a psychotic side to this very day. We will examine all his released songs – by title only – and we believe we will show a very dark, violent pattern to the music of Mr. Billy Joel, the albums telling a sort of story of pure darkness, murder and life.
——
Cold Spring Harbor (1971)
She’s Got a Way – The start of our tale of woe happens in New England. This has only a simple typographical error. It was not meant to be “She’s Got a Way” but rather “She Got Away”, ostensibly from his basement.
You Can Make Me Free – He thinks about the woman who left him non-stop. Obsessive behavior to a T. The only way that he can be free from the hellish torment of his mind is through someone else.
Everybody Loves You Now – Drinking and thinking about life, the bitterness seethes in this title. He almost snarls this at someone who is more popular than him. Elton John?
Why Judy Why – A musing on a suicidal former ex, he begs her lifeless body to explain to him why she snuffed out her own candle.
Falling of the Rain – He stands outside, wanting to acquire hypothermia to leave this world.
Turn Around – He thinks back on violent rear-entry sex that was about to ensue with the woman that left.
You Look So Good to Me – Tripping on LSD, even the most grotesque creature appears as if Aphrodite to him now.
Tomorrow Is Today – He begins to lose his perception of space and time the more drugs he consumes.
Nocturne – He howls at the moon and wonders if he can become a werewolf for real.
Got to Begin Again – The next morning, he contemplates sleeping his life away but drags himself out of bed out of sheer habit. Perhaps it’s time for a life change.

Piano Man (1973)
Travelin’ Prayer – He wanders the country, humming to himself a song of growing madness.
Piano Man – In a horrific song, he encounters a piano/human hybrid in a seedy bar, the creature garbling its words with an atonal nightmarish quality.
Ain’t No Crime – A moment of weakness overtakes him and he commits a mercy killing on this Pianoman, justifying his crime through its lack of humanity.
You’re My Home – He drunkenly slurs this to the cocktail waitress who looks at him askance, his drunkenness overtaking him.
The Ballad of Billy the Kid – In his dreams, he imagines himself to be the Billy the Kid of legend, riding around the country like some sort of folk anti-hero.
Worse Comes to Worst – He wakes up in his car. Behind the wheel. He is driving and apparently has been doing so for a good three hundred miles already.
Stop in Nevada – Panicked, he pulls over near what looks to be Reno in order to vomit up a meal of In-N-Out he apparently had eaten along the way.
If I Only Had the Words (To Tell You) – A policeman stops, concerned, and begins to question him as to whether he’s okay and what happened.
Somewhere Along the Line – The cop makes him take a roadside sobriety test and, in the middle of it, suffers a heart attack and dies.
Captain Jack – Billy seizes the policeman’s badge and identity – Capt. Jack Thomas – and clothes himself in the uniform as he takes off in the police car.

Streetlife Serenade (1974)
Streetlife Serenader – He arrives in California and, as soon as he pulls over, is accosted by a terrified prostitute who begs him not to arrest her.
Los Angelenos – He agrees only as long as she sleeps with him at her place. She is confused and a little aroused so she hops in and gives him directions in her Spanish-tinged accent. They stop by a drive-thru in order to get some lunch. He pays.
The Great Suburban Showdown – As they arrive at her place, her mother erupts from the front door, screaming at her daughter who begins to yell back at her.
Root Beer Rag – He watches the fight quickly escalate into something physical as he sips from his drink, amused at the violence. He hums to himself the same tune that he was humming earlier.
Roberta – After the fight is over, she gets him out of the car, limping a little, and leads him by the hand inside. She tells him her name. He lies to her about his own.
The Entertainer – She performs everything he wants on him with great gusto. He quickly finds himself falling in love with this hooker.
Last of the Big Time Spenders – As she finishes with her actions, he takes out his wallet and gives her every single bit of cash he has in there, nearly five hundred dollars in twenties. He doesn’t care. It was worth it.
Weekend Song – He tries to convince her to come with him, to drive the country with him. He comes clean about not being a cop but she already knew. He begs her to come with him, if only for a few days.
Souvenir – She smiles at him and hands him a pair of her panties. He knows she cannot come with him but she does not want him to forget about her.
The Mexican Connection – The two sleep together one last time. She kisses him as he gets in the car and drives away, leaving her in the rearview mirror. She cries.

Turnstiles (1976)
Say Goodbye to Hollywood – Still in the cop car, he drives through downtown Hollywood and looks at the sights. The decadence, glamour and excess somehow now disgusts him and he vows to never return.
Summer, Highland Falls – The country becomes a blur around him as he thinks back to his childhood, playing in the grass and feeling the warm sun on his face.
All You Wanna Do Is Dance – His mind changes the closer he gets to another big city. His lust begins to tear at him and he feels the need to go to a club somewhere.
New York State of Mind – He is in New York now. The lights and flashing and noise inflame his senses. He starts to lose his grip on himself as the city takes him.
James – He finds a young homeless man on the streets, begging for money. Curious, he lets the man into his car and they drive the city, taking in the sights.
Prelude/Angry Young Man – The man tells him about his hatred of the world, his misanthropy. He is violent, deranged. Billy thinks he may have found a kindred spirit.
I’ve Loved These Days – The next few days are a blur of randomly assaulting passerbys, stealing and looting stores and sexual experimentation.
Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway) – After a very vivid dream about a future in Florida, Billy comes to in an apartment on Broadway just as he finishes strangling James, the life dying in the man’s eyes.

The Stranger (1977)
Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song) – In a blaze of regret and confusion, he calls down to the landlord as James’ roommate and informs the man they would be leaving and so to not check for a few days as they got rid of their junk. Hanging up, he realizes what a horrible idea he just went through with and that he needed to leave now.
The Stranger – Running down the fire escape, he hops down into a dumpster, climbs out and does as best he can to merge into the crowd. Soon, he has disappeared.
Just the Way You Are – Taking refuge in a convenience store bathroom, he stares at himself in the mirror, wondering what has happened to his life. He does not care.
Scenes From An Italian Restaurant – He walks down the street and peers through windows occasionally. He sees couples fighting and loving, he sees lonely people eating alone, he sees a waitress trip and be berated by the maitre’d. The sheer humanness frightens him and he walks on.
Vienna – As he walks, he is pulled into an alley by an angry old Austrian man. The man screams at him about his home in Austria and how the Jews have destroyed it. He is insane and racist. Billy takes a very quick dislike to him.
Only the Good Die Young – Billy stabs him to death with a few fast jabs and tosses the body into a trashcan. He feels as if he has done the world a favor.
She’s Always a Woman – Searching for comfort, he happens upon another prostitute who takes pity on him and leads him to an apartment. The prostitute, however, is not a her. Billy is shocked and becomes irrationally angry, furious at being, what he feels to be, tricked.
Get It Right the First Time – His military training kicking in, Billy wastes no time in snapping the transvestite’s neck with one short, violent twist.
Everybody Has a Dream – The bloodlust drains from his eyes and he sees the apartment for the first time. Dance shoes. The hooker wanted to be a dancer. He flees, feeling ill.

52nd Street (1978)
Big Shot – He goes to a bar just down the street from where he killed the hooker. As he sits at the bar, the bartender becomes excited. He has mistaken Billy for a famous singer and piano player. Billy doesn’t argue. The bartender comps Billy’s drinks for the next couple hours.
Honesty – After fourteen or fifteen Manhattans, Billy lets it slip that he’s just some dude, not this famous person. His conscience was apparently killing him. The man is very unhappy and tosses him out into the street.
My Life – Lying in the gutter, drunk as a skunk, Billy bemoans what has become of his existence. In an existential funk, he wanders down to find another bar.
Zanzibar – He manages to find a bar, seedy as it is, that will let him in. He stumbles to the bar and orders a drink. The bartender shrugs and gives him more alcohol. It numbs the pain of his being in the world.
Stiletto – On his way to the bathroom, he accidentally stumbles into a man and spills his drink. The man becomes angry and combative. Billy reaches into his pocket and pulls out his knife, waving it in the man’s face. The man backs off but Billy stabs him anyways, runs out the back of the bar and takes off down the street.
Rosalinda’s Eyes – Weaving down the street, he thinks back on the hooker he left in Los Angeles. He remembers the beauty of her eyes yet is too drunk to remember her name properly.
Half a Mile Away – Once he is far enough away from the bar, he collapses in an alley, exhausted and completely drunk.
Until the Night – In his hazy state, it is difficult for him to imagine any life other than this. All he knows is that he will live until that point in time where he dies.
52nd Street – His last conscious thought before passing out is to glance at the street sign nearest him to see where he is. Then, his brain shuts down and he rests.

Glass Houses (1980)
You May Be Right – The next afternoon, around four or so, he is awoken by a worried garbageman who tells him he still looks drunk. Billy grumbles his agreement, gets up and staggers away down the street to find some company.
Sometimes a Fantasy – He finds an illegal brothel in some backroom and hires a pretty blonde to get spanked and anally violated, calling it a desire of his.
Don’t Ask Me Why – The girl, curious, questions him on his choice but he yells at her to mind her own business and tells her he’ll pay for it. She reluctantly agrees.
It’s Still Rock & Roll to Me – She leads him up to her assigned room and turns on some Elvis. He is repulsed and demands she explain it. She shrugs and leads him to the bed, beginning to service him the entire way.
All for Leyna – He finishes his business on her as she coaxes a huge eruption out of him. She’s good at what she does.
I Don’t Want to Be Alone – She gets up to make him leave but he grabs her arm and tells her he’ll pay extra to stay the whole day and night. He needs company. She shrugs again and agrees, going downstairs briefly to tell her pimp.
Sleeping With the Television On – After multiple hours together, they sit on the bed, watching Letterman. She falls asleep curled up on his arm. He cracks a rare smile.
C’Était Toi (You Were the One) – In her sleep, she starts mumbling in French. He only can catch bits and pieces of it but she seems to think he’s someone else. Someone she loved a long time ago.
Close to the Borderline – Her loving sleeptalk begins to attack his brain. He thinks back to all the women he has loved and lost and finds his sanity beginning to slip again. He is worried, as she should be.
Through the Long Night – Finally, he can take no more and wakes her up. Violent lovemaking fills the air until dawn, the sunlight stealing away the pain from him.

The Nylon Curtain (1982)
Allentown – He flashes back this entire album to his teenage years living in Pennsylvania. He can smell the steel and feel the cold snow in the winter. It was a hard place, it was a tough place, but he loved it all the same.
Laura – His first real love is there. They kiss in the gym their freshman year and go steady the rest of high school. He remembers every single detail about her, even through the drugs and booze he’s hurt himself with.
Pressure – They lose their virginity to each other. His friends have hyped it up so much to him that he can barely achieve an erection due to her nerves. But he eventually does and it’s something special, if nothing else but that.
Goodnight Saigon – He manages to avoid being drafted because of a bad knee playing football. He breathes a sigh of relief.
She’s Right on Time – An even bigger sigh of relief comes a few weeks later when Laura finally gets her period. The scare nearly broke them up for good.
A Room of Our Own – He and Laura move in together in a little apartment just off the highway. It’s not much but it’s theirs.
Surprises – A few months later, this time the period does not come. A baby is on the way.
Scandinavian Skies – Terrified of the prospect of becoming a father, he cleans out his bank account and drives to the airport, intending to fly to Europe to escape his responsibility.
Where’s the Orchestra? – At the airport, he sees a mother and her child walking. If this were a cliched sitcom, music would play to warm his heart. But none exists and he flies off, leaving the town and his growing family behind.

An Innocent Man (1983)
Easy Money – As he wakes the next morning, the hooker is still asleep. Sensing an opportunity, he steals all his cash back and climbs out the window.
An Innocent Man – Down the street, he believes he is scot-free. Suddenly, he is confronted by an angry bouncer from the brothel. The man believes that he stole the money but Billy swears up and down that he did not take it. He becomes very vocal and loud about it, attracting attention to himself.
The Longest Time – The bouncer stares at him for quite a while, then finally nods his head and walks off back down the street. Billy lets out a shaky breath.
This Night – He spends the day wandering the town, willing the sun to go down so he could drink and forget his life. Soon, dusk falls and he runs to the nearest bar for a beer or ten.
Tell Her About It – As he drinks, he rambles to the bartender about the hooker in LA. The man urges him to confess his feelings to her but Billy never got her number. As far as she is concerned, he is dead. This thought makes him more morose and he begins to drink harder.
Uptown Girl – A college student in a fancy dress walks into the bar and comments on how quaint it is. This draws the ire of all the regulars. Billy looks at her, incredulous.
Careless Talk – The girl does not quiet herself, instead going around and talking to all the different men in the bar. There are gangsters, thugs, bikers, all sorts of bad people. Yet, she does not seem to care and chats along happily. Billy comments on how this will not end well.
Christie Lee – Finally, he decides to take pity on her and goes up to her, talking and leading her out of the bar, walking back towards her apartment. She tells him her name and he again lies about his.
Leave a Tender Moment Alone – After a few minutes, they stop talking and she just looks at him. She gives him a soft kiss and starts to talk again but he stops her, annoyed that she would ruin something so quiet.
Keeping the Faith – Leaving her by her apartment, he stumbles across a church with the lights on. On a whim, he walks inside. A priest is there and they start to chat. Then, without warning, Billy begins to spill his guts, confessing anything and everything he has always does. Something about the religious feeling inside the place caused him to find just a little bit of his spiritual side. He needs nothing more than to just get it all out. The man listens patiently and smiles at him.

Greatest Hits Vol. I & II (1985)
You’re Only Human (Second Wind) – After the confession, the priest lets him know that he is only a man and that he will slip up sometimes.
The Night Is Still Young – Leaving the church, Billy feels cleansed. He looks at his watch. 8PM. There is still plenty of time to get up to more trouble.

The Bridge (1986)
Running on Ice – Eager to get back to his drinking, Billy does not notice that the weather outside has become cold and rainy. He attempts to sprint to the bar but slips and falls, hurting his back.
This Is the Time – As he lies on the concrete, he begins to feel himself slip away. Is this time for him to die? Has his life finally come to a close?
A Matter of Trust – Without warning, he finds himself lifted to his feet. His eyes, still blurry from the pain, cannot focus. He very much hopes this person doesn’t want to kill or even rob him, although he is amused at the potential irony of either of those.
Modern Woman – His eyes clear and he is astonished to find a lady in a business suit cleaning him off. She speaks brusquely to him and strides off.
Baby Grand – He walks around town all night, still conflicted at the woman who helped him. He is grateful for her aid but her condescension and classist attitude rankles him. Finally, to assuage his annoyance, he breaks into a music store – to him, the symbol of wealth – and destroys a piano. Surprisingly, he feels much better and decides to walk around the street nude. His insanity is beginning to take root.
Big Man on Mulberry Street – Dancing happily down the street, he enjoys the stares of those he passes by. Though they are not many, he can tell they are impressed.
Temptation – He happens upon a lady who stops him and, with a furtive glance around her, asks him if he would want to come with her and maybe cuckold her husband. After a moment of thinking, he agrees and she leads him off to her place.
Code of Silence – As they reach her home, she makes him swear that he will not tell a soul about this. He laughs and calls her paranoid.
Getting Closer – They have sex in her entryway and she yells at him that he will soon make her orgasm. Smirking, he wonders if she’s ever said that before.

Storm Front (1989)
That’s Not Her Style – He flashes back again on this album. While in Sweden, he is confonted by someone saying they need him to go back to his family. They say that they are there on behalf of Laura. He ignores them and walks away, knowing that she isn’t the kind of person to become that desperate.
We Didn’t Start the Fire – A few days later, he is arrested in Stockholm for arson. Apparently, his apartment has gone up in flames and his roommate and he were the chief suspects. Annoyed, Billy starts to proclaim their innocence. Soon, they are set free.
The Downeaster “Alexa” – Knowing he needs to leave the country, Billy charters a boat to take him to Russia, where he will be safe. The boat is creaky and leaks but it holds well enough and he arrives safe and sound.
I Go to Extremes – Unfortunately for Billy, he is unable to escape his past. He is walking down the street when he is nearly killed from a sniper’s bullet. Laura is no longer playing nice.
Shameless – Billy gives up his dignity and runs to the American Embassy. He explains that he needs protection from someone who is trying to kill him. He is laughed out of the building.
Storm Front – As he walks out of the Embassy, thunder begins to roll and rain starts to come in sheets. A perfect topper to an awful day for Billy.
Leningrad – He wanders the city while looking over his shoulder. His paranoia is starting to get the best of him. He decides to leave Russia.
State of Grace – He briefly contemplates becoming a monk and trying to achieve enlightenment, but his mind quickly flashes to wine. Time to go to Italy.
When In Rome – Rome is wonderful to Billy. He stays out all night, drinking wine with locals. He soon forgets his life in the States. Until one day.
And So It Goes – A telegram reaches him. How it does so, he cannot understand. Laura died in childbirth. His problems are solved. He shrugs and takes another drink of wine.

The River of Dreams (1993)
No Man’s Land – Back in the present, he finds himself having nowhere to go after he leaves the woman behind. He cannot go back into his past and he has no future. He feels he is lost completely.
The Great Wall of China – He remembers wandering China after Laura’s death, seeing the Wall. He marveled at its stature. But to him, humanity is so much more impressive. His heart rips. He needs someone, one more time.
Blonde over Blue – He finds one more hooker, one that looks as close to Laura as he can find. He takes her to a hotel and makes love to her. Her hair makes golden ripples on the deep indigo of the bed and pillows.
A Minor Variation – This time, when she falls asleep, he does not. He sits up, thinking about what he can do. Is there no relief?
Shades of Grey – He also thinks back to his few minutes with the priest. He IS human. He is not evil and he is not good. He is both and he is neither.
All About Soul – And what if he chooses to end his life? Will his soul be damned? Does he have a soul? These questions plague him but he cannot wake the sleeping woman up to comfort himself. He need to think them through.
Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel) – Finally, he decides. He gets up quietly and kisses the woman on the cheek. He says goodbye to Laura or at least her image.
The River of Dreams – Once more, he walks the streets, unsure of anything. Then, he sees the Hudson River and suddenly, in an instant, he knows what he must do.
Two Thousand Years – Time seems to flash around him as he peers over the edge of the George Washington Bridge. People yell at him, trying to get him to come down, to no avail. He thinks back on the entirety of human existence. It overwhelms him.
Famous Last Words – “I love you, Laura” and then he jumps.

Greatest Hits Vol. III (1997)
Light As the Breeze – As he plummets through the air, he feels no gravity. He could float for ages. It’s a rare peaceful moment for Billy.
Hey Girl – As his life flashes before his eyes, he remembers the first thing he said to Laura. He thought he was so big and tough. He smiles. He is nearly there.
To Make You Feel My Love – He also remembers the last time they made love. He makes it very hard because he wants to know he’s being felt.

Single (2007)
All My Life – His last thoughts are on what he did with his life. He spent the entire time making up for his mistakes and even till the last moment, he is unsure as to whether or not he succeeded. It is with uncertainty in his mind that he hits the water and it all goes black.
——
(…holy shit, Kaos. That was insane. – ed.)

I know. I wanted to make it special.

(No, I’m serious. That is the most…it…okay, you know what, I don’t know. I can’t fight this anymore. I give up. You win. – ed.)

Yay victory by forfeit!

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