Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Just The Way She Is

Hillary Clinton, I'm sure, is a Billy Joel fan.

I may be wrong, for all I know, but I may be right.
And what led me to that conclusion?
Billy Joel is indeed a talented singer-songwriter, though he tends to be simultaneously underrated by the critics and overrated by his fans.  But in their 1991 book "The Worst Rock and Roll Records of All Time," Jimmy Guterman and Owen O'Donnell called to my attention an annoying quirk Joel has.  Occasionally, he has written lyrics in his songs that are phrased to deflect blame to others.  Guterman and O'Donnell gave two examples.  One was "You May Be Right," in which Joel's narrator sings about the crazy, insane things he's done, from riding his motorcycle in the rain to walking through the predominantly black Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant by himself (accidental racism?), and explains to the woman he's addressing that she's made him do all of that ("If I'm crazy, then it's true / That it's all because of you").  Another was "We Didn't Start The Fire," Joel's list of postwar historical events that attempted to show Generation Xers that the world wasn't really a better place in the 1950s, in which the refrain insists that Baby Boomers tried to fight the fire of human history while denying any Boomer responsibility for adding fuel to the flames.
I found two more on my own.  In "She's Always a Woman," Joel sings about a woman who's capable of all sorts of malice and blames it not on the woman but on the second party he's singing to - "Blame it all on yourself."  (The song, to be fair, was written about his then-wife Elizabeth's negotiating skills and how she used them to get Joel out of bad business deals.)   Two years after Guterman's and O'Donnell's book came out, Joel released his River of Dreams LP, whose song "The River of Dreams" featured the following lyric: "And I've been searching for something / Taken out of my soul / Something I would never lose / Something somebody stole."
Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, has blamed numerous people for her loss in the 2016 presidential election - James Comey, misogynistic voters, Bernie Sanders, the Russians, white working-class voters, Jill Stein, Gary Johnson . . . everyone but . . . herself.    
Okay, maybe she's not a die-hard fan of Billy Joel's music.  But I have a sneaky suspicion that these are her four favorite Billy Joel songs. 
Especially "We Didn't Start The Fire."  Because being a Baby Boomer politician means never having to say that anything is your fault.   

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