I've recently started a miniature Billy Joel kick (I call it miniature because it can't possibly stand up to this insane addiction to Bob Dylan that I've come over) and after listening to An Innocent Man today, I decided to listen to "You're Only Human (Second Wind)" and "The Night Is Still Young".
These two songs were never released on a studio album and can only be found on Greatest Hits, Volumes I & II and were his only activity between 1983's An Innocent Man and 1986's The Bridge. Both of them are amazing works, showing how versatile Joel's writing skills had become by 1985.
Neither really fit with those two albums. They couldn't possibly be on An Innocent Man because they go against the nostalgia that plagues all ten songs on that album. They would have stuck out like sore thumbs on The Bridge, where they would have easily had been the best material on a mediocre album.
When I first heard them (so many years ago as a kid...GH, Vols. I & II was easily my mom's favorite cassette), "You're Only Human" blew my mind. I loved the upbeat synthesizers and the message came across to me immediately. Joel was just ushering you to be patient, that everyone makes mistakes and you'll learn from them and move forward.
I had a lot more trouble with "The Night Is Still Young". I always figured that I'd have to grow up to get it. After all, how was a kid supposed to understand "I wanna keep makin' love to you/while the night is still young"? That's childish naivete for you. Anyway, now I sort of get why the song is so powerful and a nice cecendo to his career up to 1985 (it was the last song on the album). Still, as a singular song, it took me a while to warm up to it. It felt clunky...like he was trying to0 hard to come up with a song to put at the end of his Hits record. The lyrics are weird ("I'm young enough to see the passionate boy that I used to be..." is kind of an odd way to start a song) and his vocal is so strange. Before this song, we never heard Billy sing in such a low register...almost like he really was this old fart singing about his past life. I got to get to bed early, so let's do it now, while I'm up...It's sick, but that's sort of the idea you get from hearing this song. Considering he was only 36 at the time, it really makes you wonder.
Moving on...and where exactly am I going with this?
I really like these two songs. They're hidden gems and the fact that you can only get them on a Hits collection is annoying. The covers on 1997's GH, Vol. III suck, but they still got on My Lives. What about these two wonderful songs? Fans have to buy GH, Vols. I & II in order to get both songs...and you have to admit, buying the same song over and over again sucks. (I mean, how many different ways do I need "Piano Man"?) Thanks to digital technology, though, you can download the two songs seperately, which I suggest you do now, if you don't have them already. If you do, listen to them again. Aren't they awesome?
In other news, Finals week at Hofstra University is in full flight, meaning that this week is going to be pretty quiet on here. Also, I was thinking that, with 2008 being put to rest, I would put to rest the name "Vintage Clothes". Sometime next week, I'm going to make the switch...and I know it'll bring a lot of issues up. I'll have to change up the Mogulus account and I'm actually considering getting rid of the podcast anyway. I've begun to realize that I'm stretching myself too thin and I really want to devote the time to writing. Besides, who wants to hear me talk anyway? Like Jack Warner said, "Who wants to hear actors talk?"...well, who wants to hear writers talk?