In a bar with friends, crazy pianos, not literal crazy pianos, but pop playing piano players playing pop piano songs on a couple of pianos. Inevitably, the piano-pop playing piano players play piano man, and my mind goes back to an article about Billie Joel still selling out Madison Square Garden like 15 times each year. I tell a friend, the friend shrugs, and fair enough, it is a pretty boring story, so why am I writing about it?
The next day, slightly hungover, watching Ted Lasso’s final episode. The crew are discussing examples of perfection and Roy Kent‘s pick is ‘The Stranger’ by Billie Joel. Welcome back Billie Joel. He is a bit of a stranger. Sure I know Piano Man but who doesn’t? And sure I’ve read a few articles about the man but a stranger he was and The Stranger it is. Following threads here, so let’s have a listen: unsurprisingly, a piano theme, but hey! I know that theme, I love that theme! I look it up, and of course, praise be to the internet people, someone has looped it for our enjoyment:
I will now exhibit where I know that particular theme from:
A song about the stranger in us all sampled in a song about the stranger in us all that now has become a son, still a stranger, but your stranger, so let’s give that stranger some advice!
I do love leitmotifs. Especially in albums.
But what is it called when different songs of the same album bleed into each other, echoing parts in different parts, creating this holographic (fractal?) whole? An interconnected unity emerges; intertwining threads acting as connective tissue of one underlying and unifying theme, truth or heartbeat flowing through it all. A contained whole. A body of work, a reflection of life even!
Case in point: The Score by the Fugees. Especially the titel track.
Listen to that song and you hear the whole album. It’s all there. Amazing.
Lauryn Hill described The Score as “an audio film. It’s like how radio was back in the 1940s. It tells a story, and there are cuts and breaks in the music. It’s almost like a hip-hop version of Tommy, like what The Who did for rock music.”
Follow the thread, follow life. Follow life and you might find your own leitmotif. Follow your leitmotif, and you’re as close as ever.
Respond to every call that excites your spirit, no?
PS I made a typo where I spelled Billie Joel as Billie Jofel which is only funny if you understand Dutch, and even then it might not be very funny. But to me, it is. Great stage name. Cartoon character. Consider this my submission to the Donald Duck writing team.
PPS some more samples:
From Billie Joel to Xzibit to Barbara Streisand. Following sample threads brings together quite the supergroup... Paparazzi by Xzibit uses this sample:
Keeping score of The Score samples, Ready or Not, here it comes (and so, Enya joins the sample thread supergroup!):
PPPS Get your Billie Jofel tickets soon, the run is ending!
Go here to subscribe to my letter of news and receive my writings somewhat regularly