Some people say that music is their life.
That’s not me. I actually really don’t like listening to music. It’s kind of like what people say when they don’t like to dance: I just never know what to do with my hands. I know. I’m weird. It’s not that I don’t like music. I love to sing and play the piano. I love the way it sounds, and the way it makes me feel sometimes. I just really don’t like the activity of listening to it. I ESPECIALLY hate listening to it with other people. It actually makes me more uncomfortable than anything else. I don’t know where to look, whether or not I should dance (which is always a no for me unless I’m drunk… What? Who drinks? Not me), whether it is socially acceptable to talk or not, etc. Not to mention, it’s so boring! I want to spend time with YOU, not a recording of someone else playing or singing who isn’t even here. I feel like that is a perfectly reasonable feeling to have. Go ahead and judge. I couldn’t care less.
I digress. Billy Joel is the exception to the rule. I really don’t know why people listen to music to be honest, but I listen to it for one reason: to incite a certain feeling, whether it be motivation, determination, sadness, or most commonly- nostalgia.
Backstory: My mom used to run errands ALL THE TIME when I was a child. I would sit in the right back passenger seat and look out the window. That’s part of why I think I have an awesome sense of direction. I always knew where everything was in my hometown because I was always looking out the window. I think when I was 8 I even drew a map of my hometown from memory. Anyway, my mom never played the radio in the car. I’m not sure why actually; it really might have helped me fit into normal society with normal music. Whatever. I wouldn’t have it any other way. My mom would play soundtracks from musicals- Rent, Phantom of the Opera, Ragtime, and Les Miserables mostly. For awhile, that music made me feel really nostalgic, but when I saw each show, I connected different feelings with the music, so musicals don’t really have that effect on me anymore.
However, when she wasn’t playing musicals, the only other thing she would play is Billy Joel*. And my mom has a LOT of Billy Joel. She has 11 different albums on CD, and that’s excluding her “Best Of” albums. Anyway, that’s what she played. So many songs hold so many different meanings for me: when she would sing along, when she would blast them in the middle of a heated argument to get me to shut up, or when she needed music to keep herself awake. For a long time in middle and high school, I hated Billy Joel, and I would complain every time she would play those CDs. I hated being reminded of being trapped in that car with her, sometimes for HOURS, driving from place to place, bored out of my mind. I’m pretty sure I spent about a quarter of the first 18 years of my life sitting in that car with her. A lot of times, she would use that time to lecture me about EVERYTHING. I can’t even tell you haw many times she told me she would kick me out once I turned 18, how many times she told me countless stories from her childhood that were SOMEHOW relevant to all my angsty preteen problems, how many times she lectured me on my grades, and how many times I cried in that car. At that point, I associated Billy Joel with feeling trapped. I could not stand it.
Then I went to college. Going to college was quite possibly the scariest thing I have ever done. I have never felt such a lack of stability before in my life. I felt so completely alone. I remember the first day I moved in, I was STARVING, but I could not bring myself to go get a meal by myself. So I tried to take a walk by myself on the South Oval, but I knew I was going to cry, so I walked back to my room and tried to take a nap. When I hugged my parents goodbye and turned to walk into my dorm for the first time, that was the most terrified I have ever felt. I think that has got to be one of the bravest things anyone can do: turn around and walk away alone from everything familiar and safe and toward something unfamiliar and new. I think that’s something that a lot of people can’t wrap their head around. When I came here, I knew NO ONE. No one in my dorm, no one at this school, no one in this city, no one in this state. There was nothing familiar here for me, I’d only been to Columbus, to OHIO twice before. I’d always dreamt of a fresh start like this, and here it was, and I wasn’t even sure if it was what I really wanted. I spent SO many days by myself, and that was really upsetting for me. In high school, I was really good at surrounding myself with people and activities so that at the end of the day, I would be too tired to deal with myself. When faced with all this time with ME, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I think that’s how all of my state pride came about; I needed to cling to anything that gave me any sense of familiarity.
And this is where Billy Joel comes in. The music that used to remind me of anger I felt towards my mother now reminds me of cherished time I got to spend with my mom. I remember her singing along to “Summer, Highland Falls”; she would call it the vocab song, because he used words like “cathedrals”, “inhumanity”, “meditation”, and “euphoria”. I remember I would get so annoyed with her when she’d play it, but now it’s one of my favorite songs. Listening to Billy Joel helped relieve my homesickness. Now it helps motivate me, get me through break ups, get me moving when I’m walking places, etc.
Basically what I’m saying is, anyone who doesn’t like him can kindly fuck off.
*That’s a lie, she also would play the St. Elmo’s Fire soundtrack. Speaking of which, that theme makes me cry EVERY SINGLE TIME. That’s all.