My final pick for the upcoming Billy Joel anthology series is ‘Big Man on Mulberry Street,’ the epic, jazzy centerpiece of Joel’s 1986 album The Bridge. This is one of Joel’s best songs, so different than so much of what preceded it, yet still quintessentially him.
The song features one of Joel’s great characters, a small-time New Yorker with big-time dreams. This guy, with the right writing and acting, could be an incredibly rich character.
A few weeks after Billy Joel won the Montauk Madness competition, the Randon iTunes Fairy has served up a song aimed at making all of us regret that outcome.
Billy Joel has written and recorded dozens of excellent songs and a handful of real stinkers. ‘This is the Time,’ from 1986’s otherwise fine album The Bridge, might be the stinkiest.
And my second Random Weekend selection is… ‘Temptation’ from Billy Joel’s 1986 album, The Bridge.
Well, it could have been worse. It could have been ‘This is the Time.’
The Bridge is an interesting album in that it features some of Joel’s most ambitious, complex work (songs such as ‘Big Man on Mulberry Street,’ ‘Running On Ice’ and ‘Code of Silence’) but also some of his worst forays into MOR sap.
1986’s The Bridge was Billy Joel’s last great album and my fifth favorite of his albums (I’ll let you guess the other four). It contains only nine songs but they’re uniformly strong. The one minor exception is the rather maudlin ‘This is the Time,’ which probably wasn’t written for a high school prom but may as well have been.
The album features a few high-profile collaborations, including a wonderful duet with Ray Charles on ‘Baby Grand.’ I remember when I first heard that song I remarked that Joel sounded like Ray Charles on the first verse and was shocked when the actual Ray Charles jumped in on the second.