November 21, 2009

52nd Street

We were visiting Uncle George and Aunt Nancy in Traverse City. It was winter in 1978. The song I kept hearing over and over on the radio was "My Life" by Billy Joel. Apparently, this Billy Joel dude was doing all right in his career. He was a year removed from his breakthrough album, The Stranger, and 52nd Street was doing all right itself.

Still a classic today. I guess that's what a classic is!

I asked if I could get the song. We went to Meijer's Thrifty Acres on "the other side of Traverse City" and ended up buying the album. Aunt Nancy was nice enough to let me play the new album on Dick's turntable. "But be careful." It wasn't so much a warning as it was an order.

By the end of the afternoon, I actually knew every song on the album, even if I didn't understand them. In fact, for many songs it was years later that I actually understood the concept.

"Got a call from an old friend, we used to be real close
Said he couldn't go on the American way
Closed the shop, sold the house
Bought a ticket to the West Coast
Now he gives them a stand-up routine in L.A." ("My Life")
I didn't understand much of the of the first verse, but I liked the music and the song. From my point of view, the song was different. But years later, it began to make sense. It probably made more sense to my older cousins, Tom and Dick, at that time. Both of them were in college.

That night, though, both of them said I could have made a copy of the album because both of them had a copy. In fact, I could have had one of the albums. Music is timeless. It's cool to a seven year old, a 20 year old, and as I listen to "My Life" right now ... it's still a great song 30 years later.

No comments: