Billy Joel has sold over 150 million records, produced thirty-three Top-40 hits, received six Grammy Awards, and been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Fans celebrate him, critics deride him, and scholars have all but ignored him. This first-of-its-kind collection of essays offers close analysis and careful insight into the ways his work has impacted popular music during the last fifty years. Using diverse approaches, this volume serves as a model for how any scholar can approach the study of popular music. Ultimately, these chapters interrogate how popular music frames our experiences, constitutes our history and culture, and gains importance in our daily lives.
Joshua S. Duchan is associate professor of music and director of graduate studies in the Department of Music at Wayne State University.
Ryan Raul Bañagale is associate professor of music and director of performing arts at Colorado College.
Duchan and Bañagale have brought together 12 essays on musician Billy Joel (b. 1949), preceded by an introduction and a brief foreword by Joel. Though there have been many biographies of Joel, this is a valuable addition to the scholarship. . . The book concludes with Bañagale and Duchan’s 2016 interview with Joel. Many of the essays include music transcriptions. A discography lists Joel’s dozen solo studio albums; bibliographical references stand in for a bibliography. This is a useful addition to the literature on Joel’s musical heritage. Recommended.
A wide-ranging look at the work of a pop master. This illuminating collection of essays offers diverse perspectives on Joel’s music, making a compelling scholarly case for his legacy as one of rock’s great songwriters and performers.
We learn from many insightful perspectives how to fully appreciate Joel’s intriguing body of work. The writers have geared their presentations for the non-specialist reader, a great feat given the multileveled complexity of the lyrics, music, and sonics in Joel’s catalog. The collection is topped-off with a penetrating discussion with The Man himself—Bravi!
11/16/2020 - Newsday interviewed co-author Ryan Raul Bañagale and quoted sections of the book’s foreword in an article titled “New book takes scholarly look at Billy Joel's music.” Link: https://www.newsday.com/entertainment/music/billy-joel/we-didnt-start-the-fire-billy-joel-1.50064113
6/27/21, Choice: Named to the Choice “Top 75 Community College Titles” feature Link: https://www.choice360.org/choice-pick/the-top-75-community-college-titles-june-edition/