On the commute in to the day job this morning, I fired up my local AAA radio station, because they frequently play new music (gasp!) that's actually been curated by a human (double gasp!) that generally has a modicum of intellect (sorry, all out of air to gasp with). I've heard everything from 20-year-olds from New Jersey that are too new to the scene for even my 15-year-old to have heard about, to the latest from the new Dr. Dre soundtrack, and lots of stuff from my own library. It works. I'm fine with it. But it's radio. It's not infallible.
Especially this morning, because, well, Billy Joel's had a new baby! How wonderful for him and us, that a 66-year-old has pounded the little blue miracle boner pills, then took his store-bought hard-on to his store-bought broodmare (old enough to not be his grandkid and actually older than his first daughter -- golf clap!), and hey presto, the world has one more human female, probably with a litany of DNA issues that we'll only understand later, on it. Good for us! But hey, she'll inherit royalty and performance money that will never, ever happen to any musician of his broodmare's generation, because the music business is forever broken, but if that means we can never have another Billy Joel, I'm strangely OK with it.
Well, fine, radio station: useless entertainment news moment passed. Can we go back to music that doesn't make me want to claw my own ears off? No, no, a thousand times no, because mentioning the worst thing to happen to music in my lifetime means we have to play tracks from him, too. First it was a cover of "Big Shot." And because I'm running late for work and futzing with my cell phone to try to avoid traffic with a map app, I'm just leaving it on. I might also hate myself. Anyway, just because it's not leaving my mind, why should it leave yours?
Well you went uptown riding in your limousine
With your fine Park Avenue clothes
You had the Dom Perignon in your hand
And the spoon up your nose
So we are dealing with a person in New York, with money. Clearly someone that Joel needs to berate. After all, they have nothing else going for them in their life, what with living in one of the world's best cities, and making good coin, or coming from money. Give them a piece of your little rat mind, Billy!
And when you wake up in the morning
With your head on fire
And your eyes too bloody to see
Go on and cry in your coffee
But don't come bitchin' to me
Not "I'm worried that you have a serious drug problem. Cocaine is a terrible, terrible drug. I love you, and I want you to be healthy." Nope, Joel just doesn't want to hear that you feel bad. Whatta guy!
Because you had to be a big shot, didn't you
You had to open up your mouth
You had to be a big shot, didn't you
All your friends were so knocked out
Maybe because your target has an actual personality, and friends, or showed a side that surprised your assumingly shared circle? Or maybe, just maybe, because the liquid courage and the Bolivian marching powder gave them the ability to finally get a word in edgewise against your miserable self?
You had to have the last word, last night
You know what everything's about
You had to have a white hot spotlight
You had to be a big shot last night
How dare you. You hussy! You claimed attention that was rightfully Billy's, and YOU. WILL. ATONE.
They were all impressed with your Halston dress
And the people that you knew at Elaine's
And the story of your latest success
Kept 'em so entertained
OK, she does sound awful. But then again, she's a friend of Joel's. We're not exactly dealing with the deep end of humanity here.
Aw but now you just can't remember
All the things you said
And you're not sure you want to know
I'll give you one hint, honey
You sure did put on a show
Gosh, could you maybe fill them in, maybe help them recover from a lapse in judgment? Nope! Billy's just here to yell at you while you are hung over. Would any jury convict for a sudden and repeated stabbing of the singer right now? Aim for the throat.
I'm pretty sure the song goes on for another hour after this, or six. I tend to lose the ability to tell time when I'm in a blind rage. If (hey, there's still a chance at downloading my consciousness to a robot body and writing this blog forever) and when my time comes, putting Billy on repeat just to make my final minutes seem like an eternity is a plan. Not a good plan, but a plan. It's important to have plans.
So it's a crap song, Shooter, and it's been a crap song for nearly 40 years now. Why can't you just ignore it, the way that functioning adults have to do for the vast majority of their waking lives, otherwise it's just the constant screaming, and eventually they put you somewhere that no one can hear you? But that is the absolute hell that is Joel. It's not just a crap lyric from a guy that always sounds like Supertool White Guy; it's a crap lyric from a guy who sold his eternal soul to Satan for the ability to churn out melodies and hooks that will never, ever, leave a brain.
Admit it, you are humming "Big Shot" right now, aren't you? And until someone pointed out to you that the lyrics were from someone who should be hurt with a hammer for the good of humanity, you were fine with that. Catchy wins! Some of you even still like Billy Joel, because Catchy Wins! (By the way, if you still like Billy Joel? I'm sorry, but you have to die. By your own hand or someone else's. Get it done. Please and thank you. Moving on.)
I tried to have a career in music for the better part of a decade. Spent years with a guitar in my hand, worked with any number of devoted and talented people, cared deeply about lyrics and everything else involved in the enterprise. Nothing we ever did was as catchy as at least 100 different things that Joel excreted into the world, then saddled with the worst lyric sensibilities this side of whatever demon spawn works on "Barney And Friends."
And because no one pays attention to words, I get to be reminded about this on any number of occasions. In the middle of "Trainwreck", an otherwise great time at the movies. In my radio this morning. On YES at any given commercial break, when I'm just trying to have some sports on in the background, because YES has a hard on for Billy Joel that's mightier than any blue pill.
It's that bad. It will always be that bad. It doesn't matter how much the culture splinters. It doesn't matter how much control we have over our media. Billy is waiting.
Oh, and then after that was over, they played "You May Be Right." Yes, yes, I may be.