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2016年8月24日 星期三

Billy Joel (比利·喬)

Billy Joel (b. 1949) is a legend. He may not be every man's favourite, he's certainly one of mine. I could never forget how I was immediately won over once I heard his Downeaster Alexa. He's got the right voice, rough, a little hoarse and so full of passion.  And the pounding rhythm of the song was mimics so closely that the sound of a fishing boat plouhging and plunging through the waves as he recounts the story of a hardworking fisherman from a small fishing town on the Atlantic coast who's got to brave its treacherous storms and dangerous waters farther and farther out into deep ocean and risk his life just so that he may pay for those monthly bills of his wife and children. He's got little or no choice in the matter because: it's just the way life goes, the way it had been for his father and perhaps his father's father. But it's getting tougher and tougher by the day. He had to sell his house to buy his boat. The times, they are a- changing! 

He never finished high school because he had to play in piano bars from a young age to support his divorced mother, sister and brother. But he's got music in his blood. His father was a classical pianist and his brother a classical conductor. He composed and sang many songs about the problems and the life of ordinary folks which became hits, like "Honesty", "Just the Way you are", "Moving Out", "Only the Good Die Young." "Big Shot", "She's Always a Woman to Me" and many many others too numerous to mention and he collected 23 Grammies and got his name emblazoned in many halls of fame. According to Wikipedia, he sold more than 150 million records! I think I know why from the moment I first heard his  song.




"The Downeaster 'Alexa'"


Well I'm on the Downeaster Alexa
And I'm cruising through Block Island Sound
I have charted a course to the Vineyard
But tonight I am Nantucket bound

We took on diesel back in Montauk yesterday
And left this morning from the bell in Gardiner's Bay
Like all the locals here I've had to sell my home
Too proud to leave I've worked my fingers to the bone

So I could own my Downeaster Alexa
And I go where the ocean is deep
There are giants out there in the canyons
And a good captain can't fall asleep

I've got bills to pay and children who need clothes
I know there's fish out there but where God only knows
They say these waters aren't what they used to be
But I've got people back on land who count on me

So if you see my Downeaster Alexa
And if you work with the rod and the reel
Tell my wife I am trawling Atlantis
And I still have my hands on the wheel

Yea yea yea oh ....

Now I drive my Downeaster Alexa
More and more miles from shore every year
Since they tell me I can't sell no stripers
And there's no luck in swordfishing here

I was a bayman like my father was before
Can't make a living as a bayman anymore
There ain't much future for a man who works the sea
But there ain't no island left for islanders like me

Yea yea yea oh ....



"The Piano Man" is a completely different kind of song about the petty miseries of lonely people trying to forget their troubles with the help of "a couple of drinks", (well, that's what they say any way) on a Saturday night. The mood is just right. 


Piano Man

It's nine o'clock on a Saturday
The regular crowd shuffles in
There's an old man sitting next to me
Makin' love to his tonic and gin

He says, "Son, can you play me a memory
I'm not really sure how it goes
But it's sad and it's sweet and I knew it's complete
When I wore a younger man's clothes."

La la la, di da da
La la, di da da da dum

Sing us a song, you're the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well, we're all in the mood for a melody
And you've got us feelin' alright

Now John at the bar is a friend of mine
He gets me my drinks for free
And he's quick with a joke or to light up your smoke
But there's someplace that he'd rather be
He says, "Bill, I believe this is killing me."
As the smile ran away from his face
"Well I'm sure that I could be a movie star
If I could get out of this place"

Oh, la la la, di da da
La la, di da da da dum

Now Paul is a real estate novelist
Who never had time for a wife
And he's talkin' with Davy, who's still in the Navy
And probably will be for life

And the waitress is practicing politics
As the businessmen slowly get stoned
Yes, they're sharing a drink they call loneliness
But it's better than drinkin' alone

Sing us a song, you're the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we're all in the mood for a melody
And you got us feeling alright

It's a pretty good crowd for a Saturday
And the manager gives me a smile
'Cause he knows that it's me they've been comin' to see
To forget about life for a while
And the piano, it sounds like a carnival
And the microphone smells like a beer
And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar
And say, "Man, what are you doin' here?"

Oh, la la la, di da da
La la, di da da da dum ....

Sing us a song you're the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we're all in the mood for a melody
And you got us feeling alright