Monday, March 19, 2007

Wutsa Matta With the Clothes I'm Wearin'?

I re-acquired my childhood copy of Billy Joel's Glass Houses last week and upon pulling out the inner sleeve recalled that I was obsessed with the dude with the watch on his ankle. That is, the drummer, who went by the name Liberty Devitto. It reminded me how much my obsessive study of rock LP liner notes and early MTV videos by bands like Aztec Camera and Talking Heads managed to inculcate me with art school and European values. Nobody in any town I ever lived in (and I lived in quite a few growing up, all over the country) ever, EVER wore a watch on their ankle. Or even wore a shoe quite as gay-jazz-beatnik as this one. It shows how provincial and sheltered people used to be as recently as the early 1980s, when Barbara Mandrell delineated social mores and the interweb had not yet made available 1,000 varieties of German "Scheisse porn." With MTV as my virtual art school education, I ended up living in New York, the source of all that beautiful, beautiful Eurotrash, where just about everybody wears ankle watches and has hair like Flock of Seagulls. Of course they do. Move here and see for yourself.

Which brings us to Billy Joel. Glass Houses is the album where BJ starts baldly ripping off a little-known British new wave punk named Elvis Costello. The Long Island boy is himself looking for some Euro-art-house cred and his answer is to immitate Costello's songs and singing style and to put a watch on the drummer's ankle. Do I resent him for it? NO! I kinda like this album. No, let me rephrase: I kinda used to LOVE this album as a kid and now I'm retroactively permanently connected to it by obscure personal emotions. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick... These two numbers don't get a lot of airtime, so why not.

Sleeping with the Television On - Billy Joel

Close to the Borderline - Billy Joel

(Note: It looks like the Billy Joel Glass Houses band photo shoot took place at about a five minutes to 1.)


Casey said...

Thanks for your post this Monday morning!

Jason Bugg, Killer of Fools said...

Regardless of whether it's a rip off of EC or not, "Sleeping with the Television on" is one of the greatest songs of all time.

However "Close to the Borderline" and the song that is partially in French are both horrible.

CynWat said...

"Close to the Borderline" horrible??

Are you deaf or just really stupid??

Pete Hayes said...

Glass Houses is one of the Great Rock Records of our time. I swear by this.

Pete Hayes