next phase/new wave
|[Per rental car conversation with Jordan and Ali.] |
Billy Joel's "Allentown" could be an XTC song: the role and placement of a wordless vocal-line, the elaborate-if-you-notice-them chord sequences, the representational percussion (as in "Paper and Iron" from Black Sea, with the common source being Hugo & Luigi's production of Sam Cooke's "Chain Gang.") Also noted: this and several other of his hits ("Don't Ask Me Why," for one) are structured so that the instrumental break falls over the music of the bridge. It's perhaps the unrockness of this device, along with the very transparency of Joel's anxieties, that keeps "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me" from cheesing me off the way "That Old Time Rock and Roll" always has, always will. Even though he's presented himself, not all that convincingly, as a rocker when it's suited him, he has little interest in even the representation of abandon, and his craft values are largely pre-rock, or at least melody-first, like Paul McCartney's. His lyrics often compromise naturalness of expression in order not to distort the tune with extra syllables. (The solutions typically involve mixed metaphor.) All of which goes some way toward explaining why his songs, good and bad, might not be unendurable transferred to a theatrical context -- whereas I have a hard time imagining Dylan's being anything but.