The Month of Billy Joel (September 2011)

Due to my summer-heavy work cycle drastically opening up, I’ll have a lot more free time during September than I have in many months. One way I plan to take advantage of this (along with quite a bit of doing nothing, reading, and catching up on TV shows) is to write a bit more for this site.

I’ve decided to revisit my “themed month” idea, which proved a mixed success when I chose to write about animation back in July 2010 before I had a full-time job. This month, I’ll be exploring the work of pop artist Billy Joel. If it seems a strange focus, it is. But there’s good reason about it — I’m excessively familiar with Joel’s work and have a lot to say.

According to Wikipedia, he’s the sixth-bestselling music artist ever in the US, so he’s in no way an unknown or underrepresented artist. But in spite of his popularity (or perhaps because of it), his artistic merits have somehow been drastically undervalued by most.

I don’t claim that he is a poetic savant or a generational keystone the way Dylan or Springsteen is, but I think there’s a lot he’s done that’s worth looking closely at lyrically, sonically, structurally, and — most of all — melodically.

So, over the next month, I plan to review each of his major releases — twelve studio albums, five live albums, a rare tracks collection, and a bootleg of his early works — spotlight and break down a handful of songs, and share a few other scattered thoughts on his career.

Ideally, I’ll keep up a post-a-day structure, but it’s unlikely I’ll be able to maintain that for a full month. We’ll see what happens.

My last warning is one I posted when I introduced animation month: There’s every possibility I could get bored within a week or two and just give this endeavor up. Such is the danger of being a side project that I do for fun.

But I’ve always wanted to do a thorough write-up on Joel’s career. At one point during high school I even dreamed of writing a book breaking down every song on every album. While this project isn’t quite so ambitious, I think I’ll get a lot of pleasure out of completing it. So here goes nothing.

Note: I’ll post all of the links here as I write about them.

Dan S.

Dan is the editor of Earn This. He co-founded the site in 2009.

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