Song of the Day, December 5: Sleeping With the Television On by Billy Joel

joelglasstvBy the time he released his seventh album in March 1980, Billy Joel was a famously frustrated musician. His past two albums had cemented his relationship with his well-honed band and producer Phil Ramone. They had also generated platinum-level sales, a string of seven Top 40 singles, and a pair of Grammy awards. Critics, however, remained skeptical. Joel became known for his antipathy toward the rock press, and set out to record his response to the critics apparent preference for punk and new wave over his carefully crafted pop.

Glass Houses was another smash, spending six weeks at #1 and generating another four Top 40 hits, including Joel’s first #1, It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me. The other six tracks were also strong, resulting in his most consistent, rewarding package. Overall, the songs rocked a little harder, but they retained the pop smarts that are the hallmarks of the best of Billy Joel.

One standout track is Sleeping With the Television On, perhaps the finest non-single pop track in the Piano Man’s catalog. Directed at the fictional love interest Diane, it’s a song of romantic frustration. He wishes he was “a fool who’s not afraid of rejection,” lamenting the paralysis he suffers from over-thinking his best move. Smart, fun, funny, wistful, and perfect pop length at just over three minutes, it’s a catchy tour-de-force.

Enjoy this wonderful gem today.

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About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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