For the next month or so, Sirius-XM radio is featuring a “Billy Joel channel.” It’s 24 hours a day of the Piano Man. Although, to be fair, the channel only plays “Piano Man” once an hour or so. Oh, there it is now!
Anyway, Billy’s been recording music since the 1960s, so there’s plenty of great stuff to listen to. But there are, unquestionably, some stinkers mixed in with those show-stoppers.
Since it’s more fun to focus on the negative, let’s list the 10 worst Billy Joel songs:
10) “The Ballad of Billy the Kid”
It’s bad history. Billy the Kid was born in New York city, not Wheeling, West Virginia. And it’s bad form for Billy Joel to compare himself to a notorious outlaw. And even if Joel really did ride out of Long Island carrying “a six-pack in his hand,” wasn’t he concerned about open-container laws?
9) “Code of Silence”
It was the 1980s, and everyone was eager to work with Cyndi Lauper. She wrestled with Captain Lou Albano and charmed comedian Paul Reiser. So we can’t blame Billy for wanting to get on that train. Still, Cyndi’s contribution to this song amounts to her wailing in the background a couple of times. Silence, frankly, would have been preferable.
8) “The Downeaster ‘Alexa'”
One of a series of songs aimed at reminding us that Billy was married to Christie Brinkley (“Blonde over Blue,” “Modern Woman,” “Christie Lee,” etc.) and had a daughter with her (“Temptation”) named Alexa. Yeah, we got that. Don’t understand it, but got it.
7) “C’etait Toi”
Billy sings in French. Billy doesn’t speak French. Hilarity ensues.
6) “That’s Not Her Style”
Uh, yeah, Christie Brinkley certainly had style when she was married to Billy Joel. See Number 8. Enough said. More than enough said.
5) “When You Wish Upon A Star”
The Piano Man sells out to the Mouse.
4) “Goodnight Saigon”
More history. More questions. More questionable history. “And who was wrong?/And who was right?/It didn’t matter in the thick of the fight.” Didn’t it? Seems like it might have mattered to some soldiers, anyway.
3) “Scandinavian Skies”
“We had the Midas touch/Until we met the Dutch/And they exhausted our supplies.”
Wait: Maybe he’s writing about the World Cup. Or something.
2) “Miami 2017”
This song may have felt prophetic in the 1970s, when New York City was aflame and had been, in the words of the Daily News newspaper, told by the president to: “Drop Dead.” But we’re getting dangerously close to 2017 at this point. And it seems unlikely they’ll blow the Bronx away, or even attempt to sink Manhattan out at sea. I’ll let you know after I drive my Cadillac to Florida.
1) “Captain Jack”
Billy’s slightly veiled valentine to marijuana use. Talk about First World problems: “They just found your father in the swimming pool/And you guess you won’t be going back to school anymore.”
Uh, okay. That’s one reaction to a dead father. But you’d have to be amazingly stoned to react to that news in that fashion. More likely Billy wrote it this way because pool and school rhyme so nicely. Has potential as the official state song of Colorado, though.