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William C. Altreuter
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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Growing up on Long Island, it was pretty much impossible to resist Billy Joel-- the best you could do was to say that you liked "Cold Spring Harbor"-- "Before he got commercial, man." Truth to tell, there are plenty of Billy Joel songs that I like, and even more that I kinda like, but it is a guilty pleasure for me. (Christgau: "I give up--it would be as perverse to resist his razzle-dazzle as to pretend Led Zep doesn't knock your socks off.... The worst you can say about him is that half the time his aim isn't perfect." Jody Rosen nails it, I'd say: "Elton John, in addition to being infinitely gayer and more fabulous than Joel, seems at peace with his status as a god of the adult contemporary charts, which Joel decidedly is not. Forget punk rockers and gangsta rappers: Billy Joel is pop music's angriest man.... Joel, of course, is Long Island's favorite musical son, and it's tempting to write off his fuck-everyone attitude as a regional tic: The Song of the Bridge-and-Tunnel Tough Guy. But the chief source of Joel's resentment is his place in the musical pantheon. He's never stopped moaning about rock critics dismissing him as a lightweight." I wouldn't trade my Bay Shore boyhood for a Bayonne upbringing, but at least the Jersey guys got Springsteen.

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