Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Saddest Bar Song

There are lots of songs out there that people love to sing but don't realize how sad they are. This happened to me over the weekend when I went with a few friends of mine and Mrs. Hops to an Irish bar in Old Town. The bar, which could only be described as a Southern Irish bar with pictures of Ronald Reagan, Military uniforms and shamrocks, was packed and smokey and had two fantastic singers on stage. The crowd was enjoying some traditional Irish tunes as well as some recent sing-along tunes. Then the big hit of the night came, "Piano Man" by Billy Joel, and the singers had everyone feeling alright. But I realized, "Piano Man" has to be one of the saddest sing-along songs ever. Think about some of the characters in the story. They're drunks, has-beens and people with dreams that died a long time ago.

The Old Man:
There's an old man sitting next to me
Making love to his tonic and gin

John The Bartender:
He says, 'Bill, I believe this is killing me'
As a smile ran away from his face
'Well, I'm sure that I could be a movie star
If I could get out of this place'

The Crowd:
Yes they're sharing a drink they call loneliness
But it's better than drinking alone

The Piano Player:
And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar
And say 'Man what are you doing here?'

That last one always kills me.

Apparently Billy Joel wrote the song after his first album did not sell well and he was playing at a local bar under the name "Billy Martin". I wonder if he ever realized that a song about him bottoming out would become a fun bar tune. I wonder if he cares.

Billy Jo-El


Billy Joel said...

Sure I care. I wrote the damned thing didn't I ? Sincerely, Billy Joel

Hops said...

Don't get pissy with me Billy .... you've been hanging around Elton too long.