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Wednesday Blogging: Favorite Songs. You guys probably know what to expect right now.

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This week’s Wednesday Blogging is all about our favorite songs. If you don’t know where this is going, then you haven’t been paying attention lately. I talked before about how deeply Billy Joel’s “The Entertainer” has influenced my life, so it should be no surprise that all my favorite songs today are his:

• “Vienna” If you look it up, you’ll learn that Billy Joel was inspired by the sight of a very old woman sweeping the street in Vienna. Her usefulness in old age apparently became a meditation on the longevity and the speed of life. This song helps me so much in my day to day. Last Thursday, I was stressing about getting stuff done. I know so many of you are waiting on The Ex, and recaps, and there are posts to write and emails to answer, and I started to feel overwhelmed. I was listening to “Vienna” and the line “Slow down, you’re doing fine,” jumped out at me so hard, I scheduled an entire weekend off for myself. I’m doing fine. I can’t be everything I want to be before my time, and neither can you. So just slow down and be good to yourself.

Print purchased from LeMonkeyHouse
Print purchased from LeMonkeyHouse

• “I Go To Extremes” This song is my mental illness anthem. When I’m up, I’m up, but who the hell knows how long I’ll be up? And my lows are so extremely low, “Sometimes I’m tired, sometimes I’m shot/Sometimes I don’t know how much more I’ve got.” Hearing Billy Joel say those words and knowing that he’s still around despite hitting those lows, I know that I can go on through them and make it to the other side.

• “Allentown” No deeper meaning (yet). I just like the song. HEEEEEEEEEYAAAAAAYYYYYYAAAAAAAAY OH WHOA OH TSH OOH AH

Upcycled album cover notebook by It's Our Earth Inc.
Upcycled album cover notebook by It’s Our Earth Inc.

• “My Life” I wish I would have had this spiritual awakening a few years ago, when I started reinventing myself, because this sums up my entire attitude now. Think I’m being unprofessional about stuff? “Keep it to yourself/it’s my life.” Wanna advise me about my weight and my health? “I don’t need you to worry for me, ’cause I’m all right.” Think you need to abusively argue with me about something on social media? “You can speak your mind/but not on my time.” If you’re out there trying to embrace yourself and be your most authentic you, do it, and remember the words of the prophet:

• “Tomorrow is Today” This is by far the most important of his songs, to me. In 1970, Billy Joel tried to commit suicide. Let that sink in. That was the year before his first solo album, Cold Spring Harbor, which this song is featured on. And the lyrics to this song were adapted from his suicide note. As a person who can profoundly identify with the suicidal feelings expressed in the song, I am so grateful that he shared this experience. It’s strange, but sometimes fixating on things that aren’t, “Oh, how would your family feel?” and “You’re being so selfish,” works better to talk you out of suicidal thoughts, and this is the thing I’ve decided to fixate on if I feel those thoughts creeping in. If Billy Joel had killed himself in 1970, think of what the world would have lost. Now, I’m not saying I’m as talented and profound as Billy Joel, or my death would deprive the world of a similar cultural impact, but it would definitely deprive me of the chance to see what happens next. For Billy Joel, he would have missed out on a pretty amazing life, but in 1970, everything he has now was inconceivable in the midst of a suicidal depression. The existence of this song reminds me that if I cash in now, I won’t get to see what crazy places my life might go.

• “Famous Last Words” It’s not hard to tell what this song is about. It’s the last song on his last studio album. He’s bidding goodbye to songwriting, after watching years go by as his creative process birthed album after album. And he’s giving himself permission to say goodbye. You’d think this would make me sad. It doesn’t. It’s certainly bittersweet; this song is the finale to an epic catalogue of deeply personal songs written by a beautifully flawed human being. But that doesn’t make it sad. It makes everything complete. If those are truly the last words he has to say, that means we’ll never get a disappointing, rushed album that he isn’t fully into giving us. He sealed his legacy with that song, so he’ll never fade into the same mediocrity as so many of his contemporaries have. That’s pretty much any creative person can hope for, right?

Check out what the other Wednesday Bloggers are listening to:

Bronwyn Green • Jessica Jarman • Kayleigh Jones • Gwendolyn Cease Kellie St. James

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16 Comments

  1. Considering my mood this week, I sense many of these songs in my future.

    October 1, 2014
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  2. Gwen Cease
    Gwen Cease

    I love Billy Joel and I don’t care who knows it. He is an amazing artist. Thanks for sharing Jen

    October 1, 2014
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  3. noisyninja
    noisyninja

    So…. now I have to make a Billy Joel station on Pandora. You are a dangerous, dangerous evangelist!

    October 1, 2014
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  4. Pansy Petal
    Pansy Petal

    Thank you Jenny! I see the light! I find that I have actually been a Billy Joel fan for all of his illustrious career. I just didn’t realize it! My Life has been my theme for years, I just didn’t connect it with Billy Joel. The words and emotion of the song just resonated with me. And there have been so many other of his songs that have touched my soul throughout the years. So as I sit here listening to a greatest hits album, I thank you.

    October 1, 2014
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  5. Ah, Allentown. I’m old enough to remember when it came out, and I appreciated not only the song for its message about the decline of the blue collar middle class but also the video for its pioneering depiction of naked actor-playing-steelworker butt.

    October 1, 2014
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    • Taz
      Taz

      I remember meeting a guy from Allentown when I was studying abroad. He said when it came out, the town was so proud, all the schoolkids would be made to sing it at various events and so on, till they really started listening to the words. Yeah. Not a celebration at all. Kind of like Born in the USA. Love me some Billy Joel.

      October 6, 2014
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  6. H2
    H2

    Ok – first, booo for getting “My Life” stuck in my head for half the morning!

    Second – “We Didn’t Start the Fire” is still one of my all-time fave songs.

    October 2, 2014
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  7. Alison
    Alison

    Vienna is the best song ever.

    October 2, 2014
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    • Lieke
      Lieke

      Agreed. I love that song so much. It helps that it played during 13 going on 30, because that film is super cute.

      October 2, 2014
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  8. Flo
    Flo

    Ah, gotta love some Billy Joel! So glad you’ve discovered him, he truly is a master.

    October 2, 2014
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  9. I don’t listen to music at work all the time, but I am today and Billy Joel keeps coming up on my MP3 player. 🙂

    October 2, 2014
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  10. Cal
    Cal

    Billy Joel is a glorious artist and I am delighted to read a new fan’s words in discovering him. He is the best.

    October 4, 2014
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  11. Bunny
    Bunny

    Love Billy Joel! Jenny, have you seen The Kennedy Center Honors? Last year it featured Billy Joel! They called his work, the soundtrack of our lives.

    October 4, 2014
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  12. Delta Juliet
    Delta Juliet

    I have a lot of Billy Joel favorites, but Downaster Alexa and Allentown are my two favorites that I can listen to at anytime. Goodnight Saigon is also a great one.

    My number one favorite though is Lullaby (Goodnight My Angel). I cry every time I hear it and in fact I could cry right now thinking about it. The music expresses how my heart feels about my children (does that make sense?) The love and happiness, but sadness and melancholy that goes with it.

    I saw Billy Joel in concert when I was 18 or 19. I was so far away he was about 1/8 inches tall but he was amazing.

    December 11, 2014
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