It’s Friday night. Are you alone? Put on The Stranger. Finish wrapping your Christmas gifts. Think about stuff. Slow down you crazy child, take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while.
When I was a stupid little kid I could listen to Billy Joel on the radio and sway back and forth and get lost in the simple pop magic. I didn’t need to know what “Only The Good Die Young” was about. I just didn’t. The song was too good from my perspective then for me to care about anything other than the literal value of the chorus. I remember wanting to dance to “Uptown Girl" without the slightest care or concern as to what an "uptown girl" was or what a white bread world was (or who Elle Macpherson was). When I listened to that song I felt like an uptown boy, which sounds like something else all together now.
When I was a stupid little kid I was just as confused by all the references in “We Didn’t Start The Fire” as I was to “American Pie,” and (that’s not actually true) I remember being obsessed with the line “Bill, I believe this is killing me” from “Piano Man.” I think the following line, about a smile running away from his face was my first step into a larger, darker, more deep and interesting adult world of the lyrics of songs on the radio.
When I was a stupid little kid I thought that “You May Be Right" was brilliant, just astoundingly fun and special, because you know what? You may be right. I maayyyyy be crazy. And just maaayybeee it is a lunatic you’re looking for. Did you ever consider that? No, you didn’t. But I did. And having no idea what any of that meant, it seemed fun, it seemed admirable. That’s who I thought I wanted to be for the entire duration of the ridiculously beautiful and perfect three minutes of that pop single. I just wanted to find someone who was looking for a total lunatic and then I wanted to become that. Or something. If that’s you, then once upon a time I wanted to love you just the way you are. Were. Whatever.
That was then and it felt right. Now when I listen to Billy Joel it’s songs like this. I’m not young and stupid anymore, but I’m something worse. I’m old and wise and so fucking stupid. And now I can really, really relate to the idea of spending my Friday nights with songs from The Stranger, especially this one. It’s song like this and it makes me want to fix myself a cocktail and sit and really enjoy that cocktail. And then maybe crash a car into a house in LA somewhere.