Song: Keeping The Faith
Album: An Innocent Man (1983)
Recently some jerk called me a “Billy Joel Apologist,” whatever that means. I didn’t know that pop music was something that needed someone to apologize for it; last I looked not a single death has ever been directly attributed to a Billy Joel song.
I think the person was implying that I had, in their eyes, gone over to some musical dark side which is crazy talk. I’ve simply given something a chance and found that it’s good: like the time I had a fish taco except I didn’t have to get drunk to listen to the Billy Joel catalog.
While listening to “Keeping The Faith” I was thinking out that “apologist” conversation because it’s a song that I was familiar with from the early 80’s but not one I remember liking. I wondered if my conversion to fandom change my thinking about this song.
After hearing it I realized that, like many songs from that period, what I actually remember is the video. For a guy who didn’t have looks or a cool image on his side Billy Joel knew how to make an entertaining video. Like his songs or don’t but never say that Billy Joel cheated you out of any entertainment in his early 80’s videos.
So what about the song?
I didn’t remember the song nearly as much as I though. For instance, I forgot the Caribbean style rhythm but I remembered the melody and the words.
Listening to it today it strikes me as a very unique song in that enjoying it hinges on your feelings about Billy Joel. I would be surprised to discover that there’s someone out there who dislikes all Billy Joel songs except for this one because thematically this song may be the quintessential Billy Joel song. “Keeping the Faith” is not a great song, it’s not even one of the 5 best songs on this album, but it is something of a mission statement for the album and Billy Joel as an artist. It’s more concerned with being true to itself then it is with being cool. I don’t love the song, but I respect it and the guy who wrote because he’s not afraid to go his own way.