Welcome to the inaugural edition of My Musical Landscape. Like my other Landscape posts, this will be an informal blog post in which I talk about music I’ve been listening to. I’m a big fan of music and it’s actually somewhat shocking that I haven’t done something like this in the past more frequently. So with that being said, let’s talk music!
I’ve been listening to some stuff off and on that is pretty typical for me, such as Rolling Stones, Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Prince, etc. Hell, I’m listening to The Rolling Stones’ Between The Buttons as I type this. However, I’ve been listening to a lot of Billy Joel and Janet Jackson recently. I keep going back to Billy Joel’s 52nd Street and Turnstiles albums and Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 and The Velvet Rope albums, specifically. Kind of a strange mix, I know, but those four are all sold albums.
52nd Street is sort of a strange one for me because despite me acknowledging that it’s a good album, it’s not one of my favorites of his. The main reason for this being that I think the album falls apart on the second half. “Stiletto” and “Half a Mile Away” are great songs but “Rosalinda’s Eyes”, “Until The Night”, and “52nd Street” are throwaway songs to me. Also, I’ve never liked “Honesty.” Those who think Billy Joel is just a balladeer with no substance probably think that because of that song. What’s been bringing me back to that album though has been “Big Shot”, which is a great rocker, “My Life”, which is a well done soft rock track, and “Zanzibar”, which is one of Joel’s lesser appreciated album tracks.
Turnstiles has been in my rotation for obvious reasons. “Say Goodbye to Hollywood”, “I’ve Loved These Days”, “Angry Young Man”, and “New York State of Mind” are classics. However, I’ve always loved “James.” On some level, that song really speaks to me. How a young man is doing “the right thing” by going to college so his life isn’t a struggle. As someone who went to college to write as well, I can relate a bit. One thing that’s always bug me though is studio version of “Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway).” This is inferior to the live version on Songs in the Attic for one reason: the vocals. What the hell filter is on Billy Joel’s voice? It’s some weird reverb thing that makes his vocals sound less impactful. It doesn’t help that Joel sounds a bit reserved in his delivery.
Moving on to Janet Jackson, I’ve been picking at songs I really like from each album, specifically “I Get Lonely” and “Rope Burn” from Velvet Rope and “Love Will Never Do (Without You)”, “Come Back To Me”, and “Lonely” from Rhythm Nation 1814. However, I’ve also listen to both in full. Rhythm Nation 1814 is such a great album from top to bottom, easily Janet’s best work. Velvet Rope, on the other hand, is such a personal and tortured album to the point that I think its flaws are there on purpose. The track order feels like it’s on random but I think that was to express how quickly her moods could change. The lack of any songs with mainstream appeal (aside from “I Get Lonely” and “Together Again”) shows Janet pushing herself to experiment more. I mean, I know this album had hit songs but they weren’t like her past works. “Together Again” is a requiem for a friend who have passed away from AIDS and it has a house dance beat. “Got Til It’s Gone” is more urban than she’s ever been previously.
Anyways, I also want to mention “If” from the Janet album. That album isn’t that good as a whole but there are great single from it. One of my favorites is “If”. I’ve always loved that Janet puts at least one rock-influenced song on her albums. Whether it’s “Black Cat” on Rhythm Nation 1814, or “What About” on Velvet Rope, I also appreciate how they’re typically released as singles also. “If”, though, is interesting, as it basically describes a woman with possibly the worst case of blue balls ever. For a lack of a better word, you can really feel just how horny this woman is on that track. It’s refreshing to see the script flipped as usually you don’t see this kind of transparent desire from the perspective of a woman.
I think I’m ready to move on from Janet and Billy though. I’ve really been wanting to get into Bob Dylan, as it’s been a long time since I have. I heard all of Desire the other day and it reminded me of how much I love his music. So much so that I might delve into the much maligned 80s period of his work. I like Infidels so it can’t be that bad, right? Wish me luck, and perhaps I’ll talk about that in the next Musical Landscape.
Alright! The first Musical Landscape is in the bag! Thanks for reading. I now want to hear what you’ve been listening to. Perhaps something a bit newer? I do typically listen to new music too but I’ve been kind of neglecting that. I do like that “Cheerleader” song by Omi though. Whatever it is, tell me in the comment section. Peace and Love, audiophiles and music lovers! Colorwind out.