Editor's Note: from time to time I'm going to post an excerpt of the new anthology book THERE, I SAID IT: Bob Dylan Is Overrated (And A Few Other Carefully Considered Objections To The Greatest Musicians Of All Time), on sale now!
OK, this one hurts. Those of you who know me know that Billy Joel is essentially a religious figure in my household. For a certain segment of godless Jews raised in 1970's-era New York, Billy Joel is much more than a musician. He is air. He is bread and water and mother's milk. I know every syllable of every phrase, every raspy stretch above the staff. I swear by and love it all.
That said, there apparently a few of you out there who believe that Mr. Joel's body of work, instead of being worthy of enshrinement into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is better suited to torture war criminals. My good friend David Bauer is one of them. And his essay is one of the funniest ones we've received.
Billy Joel by David Bauer
I'm a massage fan. Whether your stress is of the physical or emotional variety, when your body starts cramping and betraying you, there's nothing more satisfying than putting it in the hands of a confident professional.
There are risks involved, of course. Total muscular relaxation during the course of an intense full-body massage is impossible, if you get my drift. I can't speak for all men, but I think a lot of guys out there will agree that, beyond the good feeling, a 60-minute massage really boils down to two things: an hour spent trying not to fart, and praying you don't get an erection.
While the former is all dieting and genetics (and as an overweight Jew of Eastern European descent, I'm pretty much fucked on both counts), I have a foolproof method of avoiding the latter. As soon as that masseuse lays her hands on me…the instant she starts kneading those knots out of my shoulders, and my eyes start to close...all I have to do is start reciting Billy Joel lyrics in my head. For nothing in this great, God-fearing world makes me more flaccid than a Billy Joel tune. Bottle of red....bottle of WHITE...it all depends on your appetite....
When I'm lying there, nude but for a towel (yes: I go all the way), with nature sounds trickling away in the background, and the scent of incense teasing me…as soon as she starts greasing those hands up, and nature begins its fateful pull…all I have to do is hitch a ride with Brenda and Eddie and Mr. Cacciatore down the streets of Allentown or Hackensack or wherever this fucking Long Island Lunatic is taking me in his absolutely psychotic scenarios. I mean, what the HELL is this guy talking about?? Thankfully, my penis doesn't stand a chance.
Then suddenly, she ups the ante. Without warning, she's putting those skilled, tantalizing fingers on my chest, rubbing in concentric circles. My thoughts drift away. My vise-like grip on the melody loosens. Rookie mistake. Never attempt powering through without the Joel. I'm almost at half-mast before I realize it. I need to dig deep. You need - to learn - to pace yourself....PRESSURE! You're just like everybody else...PRESSURE!!!!
Soft. Phew, that was a close one.
It should be smooth sailing from here on out. But it never is. She starts working my neck. I call up an old reliable: the whistling-man intro from The Stranger. I got this. I start to relax and enjoy...but I take a wrong turn, and it morphs into the opening to The Winds of Change by the Scorpions. I’m immediately rock-hard. Quick, before she notices! Uptown Girl...she's been living in her white-bread world. Praise the lord! A millionaire multi-platinum recording artist's song about being on the wrong end of a class struggle shrivels me up but good.
But now I’m rattled. Why do I even get massages?!?!?! This is no way to live! And with my defenses down, she’s moves up to my head. My Achilles heel. My Achilles head. I need to go all out before its too late. I need Bad Sound Effects Billy Joel. The nadir, 80’s Bar Mitzvah-era. And we were SHARP. As sharp as KNIVESKNIVESKNIVESKNIVES. It's not working! I pull the emergency brake: TELLLLLLL HERRR ABOUT IT….AND, soft.
The rest is a blur. Some smooth douchiness from An Innocent Man gets me through the feet. The Ballad of Billy the Kid keeps it nice and copacetic during the thighs. I didn't even need to use my ace in the hole, River of Dreams. Eh, you can never be too careful. In the middle of the naigh-ai-aight...
Umm...is she getting a little too close to my johnson? Oh no oh no oh no. Captain Jack will getcha high tonight! And take you to your special island! We got it Billy, you're singing about drugs. Goddamn it, this isn't working! I'm going 100% full out right now. All the questionable arrangements, bizarre tempo changes. THE WEIRD HIGH VOICES IN THE CHORUS OF WE DIDN'T START THE FIRE! C'mon!
Oh wait...this is one of THOSE massage parlors? Heh, this is kinda embarrassing. I follow the Moskva....down to Gorky Park...listening to the Wind of Cha-ange....
* * *
THERE, I SAID IT: BOB DYLAN IS OVERRATED (and a few other carefully considered objections to the greatest musicians of all time) is on sale now!