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Billy Joel: America's Piano Man (Tempo


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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: "Somewhere Along the Line": Biography and Influences Chapter 2: "New York State of Mind": Geography, Places, and Spaces Chapter 3: "Where's the Orchestra?": Domestic and International Politics Chapter 4: "Pressure": Living in American Culture Chapter 5: "She's Always A Woman": Relationships and Gender Chapter 6: "The Entertainer": Stylistic Authenticity and the Entertainment Industry Chapter 7: "This Is the Time": A Historically Conscious Composer Chapter 8: "And So It Goes": The Lasting Significance of Billy Joel Further Reading Further Listening

About the Author

Joshua S. Duchan is a musicologist specializing in American popular music. He currently teaches courses on music history and ethnomusicology at Wayne State University, and he is author of Powerful Voices: The Musical and Social World of Collegiate A Cappella (2012).


Musicologist Duchan presents an informative and entertaining look at the work of pop superstar Billy Joel, positioning his songs in the canon of 20th-century pop music. Despite Joel's multiplatinum album sales, countless hit songs, and a performing career as long-and a fan base as loyal-as that of Bruce Springsteen, he has never been a favorite with critics. Duchan makes a powerful argument for the complexity in Joel's work by keeping the spotlight on the music, tracing how 'Joel's music kept alive an emphasis on well-crafted melody and harmony' rooted in Tin Pan Alley traditions while incorporating rock, jazz, and doo-wop with lyrics that addressed his listeners through contemporary themes. For example, Duchan carefully shows how an 'unabashedly sentimental' song such as 'New York State of Mind' shares many of the features of the Tin Pan Alley genre (the song similarly 'includes four verses that roughly fit the ABAC pattern and finish with title lyrics'). Duchan argues that 'Joel sings as, for, and about hard-working people whose circumstances are worsening and who have little control over the forces that affect their lives.' He successfully argues for Joel's music relevance. * Publishers Weekly *
Duchan takes a middle-ground approach to analyzing the work of one of America's most recognizable musicians of the past five decades. This book is much more than a biography.... Duchan organizes his analysis of Joel's work around several themes (e.g., place, living in American culture, stylistic authenticity, etc.). This approach works very well, especially at tracing the musician's development over the course of his career and in providing context for some of his best-known and finest songs and instrumental compositions. The writing style is fluid and the research solid, providing much insight into Joel. VERDICT A must-read analysis of the work of one our most popular performers. * Library Journal *
Original interviews with Billy Joel blend with Duchan's engaging analysis to provide readers of all backgrounds and ages a new look at Billy Joel's unforgettable songs. Music lovers and historians of both the academic and armchair variety will find this exploration of Joel's work a rewarding adventure into America's social, cultural, political, economic, and contemporary American popular music history.... [U]nreservedly recommended for both community and academic library American Music History collections in general, and Billy Joel supplemental studies reading lists in particular. * Midwest Book Review *
Joshua S. Duchan has written a passionate study of the Piano Man's music and lyrics, decoding the artist's songwriting process in a smart analysis that investigates cultural context and the language of song. Given its focus on music, Billy Joel: America's Piano Man is a welcomed addition to the books that have come before. -- Jeff Schock, director of the Billy Joel Archives

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