Saturday, June 25, 2005
"Prelude/Angry Young Man"
For a start, you're not going to hear much better pop piano than "Prelude", which is dizzyingly fast at one moment, then beautifully restrained the next. But this is just a taster, an intro to the main thing, which is another one of Billy Joel's character songs, in this case, the angry young man of the title. It's not the James Dean or Marlon Brando type, but the urban political warrior: "There's a place in the world for the Angry Young Man/With his working class ties and his radical plans/He refuses to bend, he refuses to crawl/And he's always at home with his back to the wall." The sly digs start later: he "likes to be known as the angry young man", he never learns from his mistakes, he'll "go to the grave as an angry old man" while the rest of us have "passed the age of consciousness and righteous rage". Basically, we've found found "that just surviving is a noble fight." And eventually, the Angry Young Man has become a bore.... All of this wondrous story-telling is wrapped up in a skittish, go-faster rhythm that drives onwards to the end, when the Prelude reappears and gives that Angry Old Man his send-off. Try not to think of Billy Joel as the purveyor of sugary slush but rather, like Elton John, as someone who really had "it".