Billy Joel–Sleeping with the Television on

Yesterday, the AV Club offered up a 60 mix of classic rock icons grappling with punk and new wave.

It’s not a bad list, per se, containing a few items I was not familiar with, like Suzi Quatro’s Rock Hard.

But I did have one quibble with it.

The author of the list opted for Billy Joel’s I Don’t Want to Be Alone Anymore from Glass Houses when a much better candidate would be Sleeping with the Television on.

If any song makes a case for Billy Joel to be considered an American equivalent to England’s angry young men, it was that one.

A song about a guy who is cursing himself for his fear of rejection as much as he is cursing the object of his unwitting affections for shooting down would-be suitors, Sleeping is at once kind of vulnerable and petulant, buoyed by choppy guitars and skinny tie organ grinding.

It’s not so incisive or intellectual that you’d remotely compare it to, say, an Elvis Costello song like Allison, but it holds up pretty well against Joe Jackson’s Is She Really Going Out with Him in chronicling the frustrations of courtship.

You could probably argue that there is a strain of the ‘obsessive young man resents woman he could never have’ in the lyric that is reminiscent of the current malaise afflicting our society, and I admit that is a bit troubling, but there is a sense of mutual dissatisfaction with the whole scene that somehow takes the curse off of that.

It’s odd but, over the years, I’ve come to think that the back half of Glass Houses may have at least three songs that are better than those contained in the inescapable first half, but people have largely slept on them.

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