Album: Glass Houses
Artist: Billy Joel
1. You May Be Right
2. Sometimes a Fantasy
3. Don’t Ask Me Why
4. It’s Still Rock & Roll to Me
5. All for Leyna
6. I Don’t Want to Be Alone
7. Sleeping With the Television On
8. C’etait Toi (You Were the One)
9. Close to the Borderline
10. Through the Long Night
The album cover has Billy Joel ready to throw a rock through a glass house, and appropriately, the first song starts with the sound of glass breaking. Makes sense after all these years!
Don’t Ask Me Why is my favorite BJ song. The rhyme scheme is delicious and I love singing along to it. I’m also fan of the stylings of You May Be Right (I mayyy be craaaaazy!) and Sleeping With the Television On. All for Leyna is a good rocker. C’etait Toi is pretty. There are no out and out duds on the album, though they’re not all strong.
I don’t mind it per se, but I’m pretty over It’s Still Rock & Roll to Me. Not only are the lyrics dated, but I just don’t care for the melody. I Don’t Want to Be Alone and Close to the Borderline don’t do much for me either, but they’re fine filler.
The final song, Through the Long Night sounds just like something Paul McCartney would have released around the white album years. It’s a departure from most of Joel’s ballads and it’s a great way to end my favorite BJ album.
Album: The Stranger
Artist: Billy Joel
1. Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)
2. The Stranger
3. Just the Way You Are
4. Scenes from an Italian Restaurant
6. Only the Good Die Young
7. She’s Always a Woman
8. Get It Right the First Time
9. Everybody Has a Dream
Earlier in his career, Joel wrote a song called The Entertainer, where he bemoans how the record industry stifles talent. One of his complaints is that artists get pressure to cut the length of their songs so it can be made to fit onto tight radio segments. One example of this is Scenes from an Italian Restaurant. It’s epic, seven and a half minutes long, a layered, lyrically interesting song. But it got left off the radio in favor of easy fluff like She’s Always A Woman.
Thankfully, the album is laden with solid music. Movin’ Out is a great track-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack. The Stranger might be my second favorite on the album, less so for the lyrics than the eerie whistling at the beginning and end. Another pleasant surprise for me is Vienna. The album’s weakest song is the final one–a near-gospel–which is never a good idea, but at least it isn’t terrible.
I think Joel is a great songwriter, but he’s not that great at love songs. I think that might be because the women he sings about in his songs sound incredibly obnoxious, thus I can’t identify with his feelings for him. But his melodies are generally easy enough that I can muscle through them and enjoy his stronger offerings. The Stranger is certainly one of them.