I think you’ve got to look at Billy Joel’s raw talent; the prodigious musical gifts and compositional ability; the mimicry, the voices, the piano-playing which became a vehicle for so many of his hits. Add a quite nice voice and a road-warrior mentality trying to offer value at every show, and you’ve got quite a package.
An American Songbook kind of guy.
I can barely think of anyone more Lon-Giland, who put his abilities to the American grindstone, but whose talent often hovers above any chosen genre he finds himself in.
Nick Paumgartner on a Slate review of Joel:
‘He was terrible, he is terrible, he always will be terrible. Anodyne, sappy, superficial, derivative, fraudulently rebellious. . . . Billy Joel’s music elevates self-aggrandizing self-pity and contempt for others into its own new and awful genre: ‘Mock-Rock.’ ”
He [Rosenbaum] called Joel “the Andrew Wyeth of contemporary pop music.”
When I mentioned this to Joel, he said, “What’s wrong with Andrew Wyeth?”
What is wrong with Andrew Wyeth? On this site see: Spring Beauties’-A Brief Post And A Link On Andrew Wyeth
On sitting down with Joel:
‘In between pieces, he began to explain that these were variations on a motif and that they were telling the story of the history of Long Island, from its pastoral beginnings to the arrival of the Europeans—“I’m imagining the prow of a ship, and a Puritan hymn”—and then the bustle of the nineteenth century. Farming, fishing, the railroad. “Getting busy on Long Island,” he said. “This one’s almost Coplandesque, with big open fifths.” We were a long way from Brenda and Eddie. He played intently as the room went dark.’
That sounds like a pretty talented artist looking for roots and sifting through American history and Americana for inspiration to me…
Here’s a popular song in the seafaring style trying to do good for local people without the righteous self-flattery and regard stars so often bring to the table:
Roger Scruton says keep politics out of the arts, and political judgment apart from aesthetic judgment…this includes race studies/feminist departments/gay studies etc.: Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment