Monday, November 28, 2011

80's Guilt #26: Billy Joel "Laura" (1982)

Before getting into the nerdy stuff, we'd like to state that "Laura" is (musically speaking) possibly the best homage to The Beatles by any artist during the 1980's. The production and piano intro specifically are straight-up McCartney/Wings, with the vocal melody sounding as if it was pulled from one of Lennon's Revolver-era demos, and a guitar-solo that's surprisingly NOT a guest-feature from George Harrison himself.

We might have completely forgotten about "Laura" had it not been for Chuck Klosterman... Between Chapter 4 of Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs and a 10-page Billy Joel interview/profile in Chuck Klosterman IV (link), he managed to shed light on Joel's catalog of deep album cuts that we hadn't imagined would sound interesting ever again. We don't ever listen to Billy Joel. But prior to turning 11, we indulged in a few Billy Joel's LP's. This simple familiarization seemed embarrassing at first, but the Klosterman essay was so good that it helped us gain an odd sense of pride and helped to define the two types of people who appreciate Billy Joel:

#1 There's the vast majority who know every word on Greatest Hits Vol 1 & 2 by heart. While we very badly would like to associate this album with only frat-boys and soccer moms, the stats don't lie: It's the 3rd biggest album of all time, a slow burner with most of its copies sold between the early-90's and the present.

We fall into category #2, those who accidentally enjoyed his album tracks during a naive period in our lives and have nostalgia for songs like "Rosalinda's Eyes" and "C'├ętait Toi (You Were the One)," two songs chosen for a 1999 episode of Freaks and Geeks as opposed to his bigger hits, an accurate reflection of what people were really listening to in the early 80's.

Chuck Klosterman helped us realize that Billy Joel deserves a compilation of his strongest album tracks, particularly those released between 1978 and 1982 on 52nd Street, Glass Houses, The Nylon Curtain, and among the re-recordings found on the the live LP Songs In The Attic. (Honestly, not much outside of this 5-year span is of interest to us.)

The two profiles also helped us to realize that The Nylon Curtain is his strongest LP, and the album's first two songs, "Allentown" and "Laura," are the two best Billy Joel songs. We took this into account when choosing songs for the 80's Guilt Mix. It's somehow infinitely nerdier and more embarrassing to defend Billy Joel by praising his deep album cuts, which is why "Laura" had to be here. (And the lyrics are also depressing as shit. When you hear him sing "Here I am, feeling like a fucking fool" and it sounds so sincere that you can't help feeling it in your gut... It's so sincere that we're uncomfortable posting about it...)

P.S. Also LOL:

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