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Billy Joel: And So It Goes

I was first introduced to this song when I was just 13 years old. Back before I knew I wanted to be a professional singer, or a professional anything for that matter. I remember being drawn to the simple melody and the lovely poem. We had sung it for our troubadour choir and competed in many choral competitions with it. It wasn’t until my first real breakup and heartbreak in high school that I realized the depth of the words in this song and where Billy Joel was going with it. Anyone who has experienced the break of a long term, love filled relationship will understand and feel the meaning in these words all too familiarly. I found myself singing this song from time to time to remind me of this feeling and to know that when you do give your love to someone, there is always the chance it could end in tears and a broken heart.

I’m not going to lie to any of you, life can be hard at times, and emotions can take over everything you do and are. Things change between people, sometimes one person might recognize it, other times it goes unsaid and years later, the unthinkable happens. I’m writing so explicitly here, because I’m reaching out to that part of you. The part that holds your heart in your hands and feels the very essence of this song: if my silence was my mistake, I will speak, if I spoke too much, I will listen, if my actions weren’t right, I will change course, if you needed more of me, you can have every bit.

Love is the most powerful energy on our planet. It has the distinct ability to simultaneously make one full of happiness and sadness. It strikes you with beauty, truth, honor and devotion. When love is lost, confusion sets in, taking its place causing you to retreat and recoil inwards until you cannot go any further. Billy Joel tapped this feeling in And So it Goes and his music and words have calmed the hearts of many who have experienced serious lost love.

Take a listen, remember or feel that moment, and don’t forget, this is life. It’s worth living every minute of it just to remember the happiest moments and maybe, just maybe, feel loved like that again.

In every heart there is a room
A sanctuary safe and strong
To heal the wounds from lovers past
Until a new one comes along

I spoke to you in cautious tones
You answered me with no pretense
And still I feel I said too much
My silence is my self defense

And every time I’ve held a rose
It seems I only felt the thorns
And so it goes, and so it goes
And so will you soon I suppose

But if my silence made you leave
Then that would be my worst mistake
So I will share this room with you
And you can have this heart to break

And this is why my eyes are closed
It’s just as well for all I’ve seen
And so it goes, and so it goes
And you’re the only one who knows

So I would choose to be with you
That’s if the choice were mine to make
But you can make decisions too
And you can have this heart to break

And so it goes, and so it goes
And you’re the only one who knows.

Billy Joel: Scenes from an Italian Restaurant

LLE headshotThis week our SoTD curator is Laura Lee Everett, the Director of Artistic Services at OPERA America, who’s had a long and varied career in opera—stage managing, mentoring young artists, facilitating the creation of new works, and more—at companies all across the U.S., from Alaska to Virginia.  (She’s also helped NYFOS present our NYFOS Next series at the National Opera Center for the past few years. You can catch it there in February 2016!)  Thank you and welcome, Laura Lee!

My classical music training started at the piano, which I played under the brilliant tutelage of Betty Wertz Hines until I left home for college. “Know the classics and you can play anything” was her advice that I continue to learn from and pass on. While Scarlotti, Chopin, Schumann and Mozart filled my classical ears, I loved to listen to pop radio. In the era when popular music was beginning to morph from rock and roll to disco (which is the grandmother to technogroovy dance music without a lot of depth), my favorite songs were the ones with stories. I had been influenced by that American songbook, but also by many of the folk acts of the 1960’s that my father really loved. The Kingston Trio, The Mamas and the Papas, the New Christy Minstrelsthey were storytellers who sang.

All of this rolled together equals Billy Joel.

He is a fierce piano player; he is clearly influenced by classical, folk, rock and roots. He writes all his own songs and every one takes me on a journey through a story. The Stranger was the first album that I ever bought with my own money. While there are so many fantastic Billy Joel songs, Scenes from an Italian Restaurant could actually be a mini rock opera. The music tells you where you are in history and the instrumentation choices create the landscape. He has the band with the chops to make real. It is a story about things that we all know, or have experienced, or just want to be able to sing about, out loud, at the top of our lungs.

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