Billy Joel’s compilation of live performances, Songs in the Attic, is my third favorite album released in 1981. It might have cracked the top two but I subtracted a few points because it’s a greatest hits collection of sorts.
Joel was riding a commercial high after the releases of The Stranger, 52nd Street and Glass Houses, and saw an opportunity to introduce his new fans to the music he had recorded prior to breaking into the mainstream. Rather than release the original recordings, which were performed with session musicians, he preferred to put them in new context with the backing of his talented touring band.
OK, now it gets interesting! Welcome to Round Two of Montauk Madness. The 32 artists who survived Round One now advance to face each other in a battle to reach the Sweet Sixteen.
Both Billy Joel and Frank Sinatra cleared Round One without breaking a sweat. Joel received 95% of the vote in a matchup against Michael Penn, while Sinatra picked up 86% against my beloved Tift Merritt.
How will they fare against each other? Continue reading
Here’s a wonderful Billy Joel track first released on 1976’s Turnstiles and later on the 1981 live compilation Songs in the Attic (that’s the version featured here).
Turnstiles was written after Joel left Los Angeles to return to his native New York and exercise more control over his music (he produced the album himself). That move is reflected in such titles as ‘New York State of Mind’ and ‘Say Goodbye to Hollywood.’ On this track, he admits that, while it’s time for him to move on, he’ll have fond memories of his life in L.A.
Best Songwriters – #10 – Billy Joel
A couple of weeks ago, I posted a comment saying that I don’t consider Brad Paisley or Taylor Swift among my “top tier” of songwriters. So of course the question that immediately jumped into my mind was, “Who is in my top tier of songwriters?”
The next two weeks will be dedicated to answering that question.
First, a few ground rules.
I’m restricting this list to solo artists. No Lennon/McCartney or Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipe band collaborations here. No Counting Crows, Belle & Sebastian or The Smiths.
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.