Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Did they have keyboards in 1972?

The title was an afterthought, but if anyone knows the answer, please share.

Those of you who saw my profile on AOL a decade ago may remember that, under favorite things, I listed: Pop ice, girls in sundresses, bands with horns, and Snickers Shivers (not necessarily in that order). Well, last night I got to experience one of those things.

A band with horns.

For my birthday, Leah bought me tickets to the Billy Joel concert. I’ve never been a big concertgoer, even back in the day when it seemed as if there was a concert at the BJCC 6 nights a week and tickets weren’t $85. The last concert that I went to, oddly enough – or maybe not, was the Face2Face tour with Elton John and Billy Joel. Before that? Gee, XFest 3 maybe?

But I like Billy Joel and I’m not sure why. Maybe because I’m not a fan of electric guitar laden songs. I like what I’m going to call “pure sound”. Sound that isn’t run through a synthesizer. The piano. A brass trumpet. A saxophone. Maybe those are all run through synthesizers, I don’t know, but I don’t like any instrument that I think is screaming at me – and the prime example is the electric guitar, or a keyboard that is in “ambulance siren” mode.

I also like songs that tell a story. “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” is a great example, as are “Leningrad” and “The Entertainer”. I also like songs that take me to a happy place. “New York State of Mind”, for example.

Billy opened with “Angry Young Man”, the prelude of which was played so fast that it hurt me to watch. It was just dizzying. I know that there are high notes and low notes, but I honestly don’t know which end of the piano plays which. To see someone shred through a piece of music and actually produce a pleasing sound amazes me. I don’t care if it’s Billy Joel or the guy that plays at Leonardo’s on Valentine’s Day, musical talent – I mean real talent - simply amazes me.

Billy then took a break to thank the people that bought the “$hitty” seats at the top of the arena, telling them that he really needs the money right now. “You would not believe how much my car insurance is.” Funny.

There were two big surprises wrapped in to one. Did you know that Billy Joel plays the guitar? I’m convinced that people who are really talented can play any thing. If you sat Brad Paisley or John Mayer behind a piano, they could make it work. Kenny Chesney probably couldn’t, but….

Anyway, as Billy Joel held the guitar, he talked about this being the “American Idol” portion of the show. He said that one of the crewmembers wanted to sing a song, a good gospel song that most of us heard in church. He then introduced the crewmember (Chainsaw) and played the guitar as Chainsaw belted out “Highway to HELL”.

My parents never would let me own an After Christ/Devil Commands tape, let alone go to one of their four yearly concerts at BJCC, so hearing Chainsaw do a really good job with that heavy metal classic was quite a treat. Peeps that had sat silently for the first hour of the show sprung to their feet at the first chord (note? riff?). I wouldn’t want to hear 2 hours of that (see screaming guitars above), but it was an interesting bit – and did you know that Billy Joel played the guitar?

I’ve said several times that I wish that I could play the piano. Heck, I wish that I could type. Anyway, something happened last night that made me rethink the instrument that I would play in the Fantasy Musicians League.

During “Highway to Hell”, Billy Joel stepped to the very front edge of the stage. I don’t think Billy’s a dumb man at all, and he knew exactly where the cluster of pretty girls was standing. As soon as he got within arms reach, twelve hands that are younger than most of #1 hits grabbed his leg, thigh, and groin areas. Seriously, he has Grammy Awards older than these girls. You just can’t get that kind of manual attention sitting behind a piano.

Billy Joel was born in 1949. He’s 58 years old, bald, and portly. Yet, when given the chance, these girls clawed at him like it was 1978. It was mildly disturbing.

And yet another reminder that I’ve made a bad career choice.

Anyway, it was great show. Leah got to hear her favorite Billy Joel song, “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant (the Ballad of Brenda and Eddie)”. We heard the song that we’re pushing on Jack, “New York State of Mind”, and I got to hear the song that I would sing on American Idol if I were ever on the show, “The Entertainer”.

It was a Monday night and the show didn’t start until 8PM, so I didn’t drink anything. This allowed me to come to work somewhat clear-headed this morning, and it also allowed me to notice people who were lost at the concert. There’s not many things funnier than a drunken person walking down the wrong aisle in a dark arena looking for his friends. Oh, it was a fun time.

Thank you Leah. I enjoyed everything except the parking.


Katie said...

She's a good wife you got there. I am glad you liked Billy Joel : )

Karly said...

The left is the high notes the right is the low notes. I would be glad to demonstrate the rewards of 7+ years of piano lessons by playing "Mr. Frog Is Full of Hops" for you. Please, please, please can we have a faux American Idol night at the karaoke bar so that I can hear you sing anything???/

Jammy said...

Karaoke is hard. At least, singing rap songs on karaoke is hard. JRod had a machine at his house and I failed miserably at "Dilemma" and that Nelly/Tim McGraw song.