Thursday, May 21, 2009
The Piano Man
In 1985, when big hair was all the rage, and most girls my age were listening to Madonna or Duran Duran, my good friend, Lisa, and I were infatuated with the Piano Man. Yes, I'm talking about my all-time favorite musician, Billy Joel. His Innocent Man album had recently put him back on the charts, but Lisa and I were more fond of his older stuff. Now, I'm not sure what triggered this memory today. I was standing in the local nursery amidst all of these beautiful flowers contemplating which ones to buy when I recalled this poem I wrote about Billy Joel when I was fifteen. At the time, writing poetry and listening to music were my favorite pastimes, so I guess I decided to combine the two. Here's what I came up with back in 1985: On a piano in Long Island He plays of Summer Highland But he wasn't always there Life isn't always that fair From the teenage gigs in town To sold-out concerts all around He had a dream and reached his goal He gave is life to rock 'n' roll We all have dreams of our own, but we don't try to reach the sky We take what comes and then grow old, and soon we die Unsatisfied and Forgotten He played his songs and sang along But it came to fast, and things went wrong And then, stuck, nowhere to turn But what's life if you never learn He picked up and went away Maybe he'd come back another day He made a new life in a new land Where the sun reflects off of the sand We all have dreams of our own, but we don't try to reach the sky We take what comes and then grow old, and soon we die Unsatisfied and Forgotten Things were bad but sometimes good He worked things out and did what he could When things weren't going right He never once lost sight Of the one most important goal He knew was true deep in is soul He tried his best to reach the sky And the dream he reached will never die We all have dreams of our own, but we don't try to reach the sky We take what comes and then grow old, and soon we die Unsatisfied and Forgotten I'm not going to go into the details of his life story, but I do want to point out that getting to where he is today was an uphill battle. He never gave up, though. Here's the kicker: As I remembered this poem, I also realized that someone of note had read my writing and liked it. That person was none other than Billy Joel himself. My older brother was attending Pepperdine at the time, and frequently jogged on the beach behind Billy Joel's Malibu home. One day, his then wife, Christie Brinkley, was sitting outside, and my never shy brother convinced her to let him bring my poem back to her. She, being the kind, beautiful super model that she was, agreed. My brother jogged back home, called my mom, and had her recite the poem over the phone to him. (This was before the days of fax machines and email, of course.) He quickly jogged back, and gave her the poem. Two weeks later, I received a very kind and appreciative hand-written letter from Billy Joel. (He never turned my poem into a song, but at least he wrote to me!) As I said before, why I thought of this today is beyond me, so I have to assume it was God giving me another reason to not give up. As my fifteen-year-old daughter taught me a lesson yesterday, my fifteen-year-old self, taught me one today.