When you go to college in New Jersey, a funny little thing happens. No matter how hard you try, you eventually become exposed to and ultimately a big fan of the area’s fantastic musicians – yes, that means the “Boss” Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi (of course) but also – and this is very important – the great Billy Joel.
Yes, this happens when you’re in your 20’s and everyone else your age has long forgotten the music of the 70’s and 80’s and is talking about punk (or was it grunge?) but because you’re in Jersey, you soon start longing for the sound of the The Piano Man as you are finishing that last drink at the fraternity party in the wee hours of the morning (what, you didn’t know about my Greek college life past?). And don’t mind the fact that Billy Joel is from New York – he has a huge (and I mean huge) following in Jersey. It is the state of good music, if you hadn’t heard.
And so I started buying his CDs (yes, I went to college during the time of CDs so you do the math), and listening to his music nonstop. And not long after I started playing his music at home during a school break, my Dad jumped on the band wagon. The two of us loved his music, his lyrics, the way he tells stories about his life through music, and the way his music gave us a connection. Something to talk about. Something to sing together (much to the “pleasure” of my Mom who didn’t quite share our passion).
And soon, when we realized that The Entertainer was still entertaining live audiences, we started paying attention to his concert schedule. This led to an impromptu father-daughter trip to St. Louis for the sole reason of seeing Billy Joel in concert. And he did not disappoint one bit. There is a reason people call him the “Entertainer.” Over the next few years, we proceeded to see his concerts in Chicago and Las Vegas as well as the rock ballet adaptation of his music on Broadway (“Moving Out” – amazing) and of course, let’s not forget the “Face to Face” concert with Elton John (also in Chicago).
And then Billy Joel stopped touring, I became busy moving around the world, having kids, and all that. Fast forward to last Christmas in Vienna (which is also the name of a Billy Joel song, bet you didn’t know that!) when we found out that Billy Joel was doing monthly shows at Madison Square Garden so one thing quickly led to another and we had tickets for his December show.
And that’s where I spent the past two days, in our old stomping grounds of NYC. It was a great show and it was also very special to be back “home” in the one city in which I feel truly at home after all these years of globe hopping.
It always amazes me that no matter how much time passes in between my visits back to NYC, I truly love this city and being back. I love the noise, the chaos, the lights, the disorder, the sights, the smell, oh just about everything. For me, it is truly as Billy Joel says a “New York State of Mine” which is the song playing on my iPod (yes, I have upgraded to digital music) as I am sitting on the train back “home” to Washington.
I am resting my eyes and enjoying the quietness of the “quiet” Amtrak car and most importantly, resting my feet after spending the past two days walking around Manhattan (oh how much I missed walking in this crazy and busy city!). I am slowly processing the sights, the smells, the sounds, our afternoon at the World Trade Center site and memorial, and my walk down memory lane in our old Brooklyn neighborhood.
And I am preparing for the chaos of coming home to my favorite little and big people and seeing their faces when I show them the NYC goodies I brought home.
Life is good.