Piano Man

Ace of Spades links to an Atlantic Monthly piece wondering how Billy Joel, who hasn’t released a commercial album since 1993, can keep selling out Madison Square Garden.  Since it’s behind a paywall I can’t see what those geniuses actually came up with, but I’m willing to bet that the real answer is: Joel’s music is apolitical.

These days, of course, you will be made to care.  You can’t watch sports anymore without #BLM propaganda, and we all know about the video games trainwreck.  I doubt there’s been a movie released in the last ten years without an ass-kicking heroine and a heroic gay man, and as for pop music, it’s so converged that even Katy Perry supposedly released a “political” song.

imagesBecause yeah, that’s why Katy Perry is popular.

Billy Joel, by contrast, has a sad-sack everyman persona, and makes tinkly piano pop to match.  I have no idea what Mr. Joel’s personal politics are; given that he’s a New Yorker, a Jew, and a celebrity, I’m confident he’s a drooling progtard offstage.  His music, though, is apolitical, and doesn’t lend itself to the kind of in-concert sermonizing Bruce Springsteen’s similarly sad-sack everyman tunes do — you can make a whole big deal about how “Born to Run” is about working class life in Reagan’s America or whatever, but you can’t really break off the chorus of “Uptown Girl” for a pro-Hillary harangue.

The rest of the culture is an indistinguishable gray blur.  You can root for your favorite sportsball team, or play a video game where you’re a knight in shining armor, or go to the movies, or read a novel, or listen to Top 40 pop, but it’s all the same thing underneath — the Cult of Modern Liberalism serves a jealous god, and there’s no place to hide from Him.  I don’t particularly care for Mr. Joel’s music on its own, but next to Generic Top 40 Hit Model A-342 — currently blaring at halftime shows and in video game cutscenes everywhere — “Piano Man” sounds like the 1812 Overture, and for that reason alone, he’s the only currently touring act I’d actually pay to see.

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