Monday, June 27, 2011

Because it's summer: smooth song of the day #19

Still Rock and Roll to Me by Billy Joel
I think it's time to move decisively into a new decade. Decades really do have identities no matter how much we might want to insist on the artificiality of the distinction. Change is always an attractive option and a year ending in zero is the perfect excuse.

That's a bit difficult because every decade starts a few years into the decade. There is always a period when people cast around looking for an identity. A big part of the problem is that no one wants to bravely lead off in a new direction to find that everyone else went another way.

Boy do some people love to hate Billy Joel. That was also true when this song was a hit. It was the tune that people who "really care about music" loved to hate while just about everyone else loved to turn up the volume. And that tells a whole lot about what happened in the 1980s. Smooth clean girls increasingly fell into the category of people for whom music existed to accompany other activities rather than something you used to define yourself as a human being.

 There were lots of songs with the words "rock and roll" in the title or the lyrics during the 1970s but you couldn't really dance to them. A smooth, clean girl could dance to this. That the lyrics made a lot of sense—and you could make out every word on first hearing—was an added bonus.

The series starts here.

The next song is here.

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