When I was a young, extremely straight-laced and conservative mainstream kid of 12 or so, I told my parents I liked Billy Joel – and my parents, being the extremely straight-laced, conservative cheap parents that they were, bought me a budget tape of Billy Joel’s Cold Spring Harbor for Christmas.
Oh, how I loathed that cassette. There I was, with dreams of Piano Man and Uptown Girl, left with an album made by a young pre-MTV Billy Joel with a bad moustache and long hair singing songs I’d never heard.
And yet, in an era before Spotify – or MP3, for that matter – I had so little to listen to that I ended up playing that tape over and over until it grew on me … and now, several decades later, way after I learned to love Iggy Pop, Joy Division, and other musicians that wanky pretentious people like me boast about, I have to say Cold Spring Harbor is still one of my all time favourite albums.
It’s odd and non-commercial, filled with the kind of mournful songs someone would write either for themselves or for a bar filled with despondent drunks (one was written using the words from a suicide note Billy Joel had written. Luckily for him and fans of Piano Man, however, the suicide attempt failed and this album emerged).
In short: I recommend it.