Thursday, July 21, 2016

Billy Joel Gives 20,000 People A Chance "To Forget About Life for a While"

It's a pretty good crowd for a Saturday
And the manager gives me a smile
'Cause he knows that it's me they've been coming to see
To forget about life for a while
Billy Joel, "Piano Man"
Yesterday, I joined with Liz, two good friends, and 20,000 other people for 3 hours of pure joy in Madison Square Garden. The occasion was a Billy Joel performance that had people singing, laughing, crying, rising to their feet and singing along with the songs. For three hours, I had no idea who in the crowd was a Trump supporter, a Clinton supporter, or someone who despised both candidates. We were all united in appreciation of an artist of supreme talent, who not only was an extraordinary entertainer, but who wrote songs that were part of the soundtrack of our lives.
It was almost as though Billy Joel knew how torn up and divided we were and did everything in his power to unite us. This was not only true in the overwhelming energy and passion with which he performed, but in his song selection. The 25 plus songs that he played were popular numbers that reflected on universal themes such as sexual longing, personal disappointment, lost youth, romantic love, and the joy of achievement against great odds-- songs that from the early 70's to the early 90's were ones that almost every working class or middle class American could identify with. He chose NOT to play what I think is his greatest song "Goodnight Saigon" because it would have broken the mood of affirmation and made people look at a time in our history when people are divided as they are now.
And I don't blame him for it. We NEEDED to be together last night, not worried about what our neighbor was thinking. As Billy Joel brilliantly commented in the song that made him famous, "Piano Man": sometimes we do need "to forget about life for a while."
That Billy was conscious of an extra need for this at this difficult time was conveyed in his final words after a kick ass encore performance of "Only the Good Die Young" featuring horn and guitar playing to die for. He told the audience
"Have a Great Summer. And Turn off the News"
For three hours, we were able to do just that.

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