Vicious Fight Breaks Out Over Billy Joel Music

Con. Pro.

Gotta side with the "pro" if only because the "con" is so stuck in the ironic distance of nihilism he can't recognize honest appreciation. To wit:
take "Piano Man." You can hear Joel's contempt, both for the losers at the bar he's left behind in his stellar schlock stardom and for the "entertainer-loser" (the proto-B.J.) who plays for them. Even the self-contempt he imputes to the "piano man" rings false.
Um, contempt? I think he's just painting a scene we all recognize --and affectionately, at that. I think honest affection is what characterizes most of Joel's hits. (Although I'll concede the critic Capt. Jack and any political commentary songs.)

I'm not going to stick my neck out for Joel as High Art, but the real reason the rock critics dislike him is that affectionate quality and -- let the record show this is what really sinks him-- because he makes an effort to make his lyrics rhyme. Rhyme = unhip in the art world, just ask our inaugural poet.

I also have to agree with "pro" because the defender understands "Only the Good Die Young." Many earnest good people I know find the song offensive and anti-Catholic --and so does our critic:
Contempt for the Catholic religion. I know: It's spirited if anti-spiritual, but, still ... I've heard some Catholic girls opine on its most famous line ("Catholic girls start much too late"), and they ain't buyin' it.
Gimme a break. The song is about lust and pays Catholic girls a high compliment as the chief obstacles to same. The teenage boy always insults what he can't have. The lyric is fox and the grapes, not a rant. Our Billy Joel defender gets it:
He calls “Only the Good Die Young” a screen against Catholicism, which it was if all you’d read were the op-ed columns. The song is a story about lust, principally; and its obstacles, incidentally.
Besides, you can't be sad listening to Root Beer Rag.

Curtsy: Powerline