Meet Me In Montauk

Song of the Day #3,321: ‘Rosalinda’s Eyes’ – Billy Joel vs. Paul Simon

Welcome to Round Four of Montauk Madness! The Elite Eight! Four contests that, if everything has worked out according to plan, will have you pulling your hair out trying to pick winners.

Our first battle faces off a couple of legendary New Yorkers: Billy Joel and Paul Simon. Joel defeated Michael Penn in Round One, Frank Sinatra in Round Two and Van Morrison in Round Three. Simon took out Elton John, Sting and Lucinda Williams. I voted for both of them every step of the way.

Here is where my own rules start catching up with me. I made the decision to split Paul Simon from Simon & Garfunkel (a bad call, in retrospect) so I have to consider only Simon’s solo work for this contest. While I was incredulously watching people vote for Taylor Swift over Simon & Garfunkel, I realized that arguably Simon’s very best work was with S&G. And none of that matters here.

Of course, that still leaves us with Graceland, Rhythm of the Saints, Still Crazy After All These Years, There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, Hearts and Bones, and So Beautiful or So What as well as a half dozen more lesser but occasionally brilliant albums.

As for Billy Joel, I’d list his best albums as The Stranger, 52nd Street, The Nylon Curtain, Glass Houses and Turnstiles. But Cold Spring Harbor, The Bridge,
Piano Man, Streetlife Serenade and An Innocent Man are all very solid. Even his last couple of albums (which I recently rather harshly dismissed as “clunkers”) feature several wonderful songs.

I have a sentimental attachment to both of these guys dating back to my childhood, though the Billy Joel love started earlier. I wasn’t even ten years old when I was rocking out to ‘Stiletto.’ A nostalgic pull like that could be enough to push him past the finish line here.

But after much soul searching, I’m going to side with Paul Simon. I think his best work edges out Joel’s, if only slightly, and he has explored a broader range of genres (African and Brazilian music, Broadway, even something approximating electronica).

That said, I’ll be perfectly happy if the piano man advances.

Billy Joel vs. Paul Simon: Who Should Advance?

[Verse 1]
I play nights in the Spanish part of town
I’ve got music in my hands
The work is hard to find, but that don’t get me down
Rosalinda understands

Crazy Latin dancing solo down in Herald Square
Oh, Havana, I’ve been searching for you everywhere
And though I’ll never be there
I know what I would see there
I can always find my Cuban skies
In Rosalinda’s eyes

[Verse 2]
When she smiles she gives everything to me
When she’s all alone, she cries
And I’d do anything to take away her tears
Because they’re Rosalinda’s eyes

Señorita don’t be lonely, I will soon be there
Oh, Havana, I’ve been searching for you everywhere
I’ve got a chance to make it
It’s time for me to take it
I’ll return before the fire dies
In Rosalinda’s eyes

[Verse 3]
All alone in a Puerto Rican band
Union wages, wedding clothes
Hardly anyone has seen how good I am
But Rosalinda says she knows