For my 100th Song of the Day, I wanted to do something special. I was digging through my collection looking for songs that contained the number ‘100’ (without success) when I happened upon this great Billy Joel track. And it felt epic and important enough to warrant this place of honor.
‘Miami (2017)’ was first released on the Turnstiles album, but the version I’ve always loved best is the live recording found on Songs in the Attic. The song is about a future skirmish that wipes out New York City, and this version was performed in Manhattan in front of an electrified crowd that screams in unison at every mention of a New York landmark.
I’ve loved Billy Joel ever since my parents played The Stranger and 52nd Street in our house 30 years ago. After the great run he had in the 70s and 80s, it’s hard to believe he hasn’t put out an album of new songs in 15 years. He’s better known now for drunk driving and marrying a woman younger than his daughter. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find a batch of songs by anyone as well-written as the stuff Joel put out between Cold Spring Harbor and The Bridge.
Songs in the Attic is one of the few live albums I own, and probably the best. It covers Joel’s lesser-known pre-Stranger output and does an excellent job capturing the energy of his live performances as well as his piano virtuosity.
I love the slow start and finish to this song, interrupted by the powerhouse middle third. It reminds me of ‘Scenes from an Italian Restaurant’ in that regard, though it doesn’t quite live up to that song’s standard. Mostly I love the way this recording puts you in that stadium with a bunch of New Yorkers screaming along to a tale of their city’s demise. It’s sort of a strange concept but somehow it seems exactly right.