It’s Either Sadness or Euphoria, Part II

When we last left our intrepid hero, he was watching in silent horror as his envelope containing his carefully- worded question for Billy Joel went fluttering out of his hands…flapping, floating down to the floor below his balcony seat.

True to form, David was able to pull it together enough to ask the question from memory.  He certainly had practiced it enough times.  Here is my best rendition of the question he asked his childhood music hero:

“Hello, Mr. Joel.  I’ve been a fan for many years.  My question pertains to the song ‘Angry Young Man.’  You describe the angry young man as follows:  ‘he sits in a room with a lock on the door, With his maps and his medals laid out on the floor-‘.  And yet he has ‘his fist in the air and his head in his hands.’ His maps and his medals, that’s his goals and his accomplishments.  But he has not found fulfillment in those things.  Mr. Joel, I want to ask you, where do you find meaning?”.

Good question, right?

Here’s what Billy Joel said:

First, “Wow.  You’re carrying a lot of philosophical baggage there, man.”

(the audience laughed)

Second, “Well, where does anybody find meaning?  In things substantive.”

In things substantive?  What in the world does that mean?

And that was it.  Not exactly the interaction that David was hoping for, but maybe Billy was having an off night. 

Then Billy went on to play the prelude to “Angry Young Man,” which is a dizzying piece of piano work.


He used this as a good illustration of how the piano is really a percussion instrument, even though most people wrongly categorize it as a string instrument.

So that was that.   Billy probably came off his pedestal that night, but I think music heroes probably appreciate when they can come off those pedestals and be like the rest of us.

Lastly, in case you’re wondering about the title to this series, here is “Summer, Highland Falls,” one of Billy Joel’s lesser-known songs, which I really like both for the lyrics and the melody.

2 thoughts on “It’s Either Sadness or Euphoria, Part II

  1. I've loved Billy Joel's music for ((counting)) yikes, over twenty-five years. When you admire someone for their genius in some field, and you're a Christian, it's easy to fall into the trap of believing that that level of light and skill must mean that they have at least some level of light about the glory of God. So I always feel a thud of disappointment when they confirm it's not so. I've read recently that he's fallen back into alcoholism. So sad.But a great story still.


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