I gotta say, I do love some old-school 1970-something Billy Joel.
It has a waaaay about it - don’t know what it is...
The later stuff, Uptown Girl, Rhythm of Dreams, and the dreaded We Didn’t Start the Fire, all that I can do without. But songs like It’s Still Rock ‘n Roll to Me, Just the Way You Are, and Scenes From an Italian Restaurant still send me back to the backseat of our old brown bomber of a car from when I was a little girl.
I loved hearing those songs on the radio, and loved hearing my parents sing along to them. Sure, I enjoyed hearing My Life as the opening credits rolled to Bosom Buddies.
I also recall doing a very bad jazzercise routine to Pressure.
For my ninth birthday I received the album Glass Houses from my Uncle Bob, my music mentor. If Uncle Bob gave it to me, it had to be a cool album. Years later I found out that Uncle Bob had re-gifted Glass Houses to me after getting it from an ex-girlfriend as a Christmas gift.
But no matter – my record collection was relatively small at this point, a bunch of Stones albums, some Beatles, some K-Tel compilations from Woolworths and Get Lucky by Loverboy were are a nice start, now it was time for Billy to join the gang.
This album covered is forever ingrained in my brain. Like if you say Billy Joel to me I see him standing in front of a glass house about to throw a rock. The way they shot him for the cover makes him appear much taller than he is in real life - and I liked that he was wearing black leather gloves along with his black leather jacket – very Italian-tough-guy to my nine year old self.
And on the back of the album there was Mr. Joel, with a nice head of hair, staring up at me with his big brown eyes through the hole he had just made in the glass house. But he changed from his tough guy outfit into a suit - he probably stole the suit from the guy who lived in the glass house. I had a whole scenario built up in my head.
Side one of Glass Houses rocked my world with songs like, You May Be Right and Don’t Ask Me Why. Nothing on the flip side really thrilled me like side one did.
Although, in later years, side two would become an experimental playground for me.
Flash forward and I am twelve and not so into Billy Joel anymore. Now I was obsessed with Run DMC, LL Cool J and Whodini. I thought maybe I could be an expert rapper, mix-master, and scratcher – and I used side B of Glass Houses to practice and refine my mad skillz.
I wrecked many a record needle, trying oh so hard to make that wiki-wikki-wikki sound happen just like Jam Master Jay. Over and over again up in my little pink room, I spun side B wrecking it beyond repair. But did you really want to listen to Sleeping With the Television On or C'etait Toi? (I told you there was nothing good on the flip side.)
My last memory of Glass Houses was of my father, bursting in my room as I scratched too loudly for the millionth time. How annoying, Jesus, who could blame him as he snapped the album off of the turntable and broke it over his knee (yes, just like in the movies) and walked out without saying a word.
Instead of a house being shattered with a rock my Billy was busted on bended knee.
Don’t ask me why.