Jewish Conversion: The Billy Joel Experiment
Part III: ‘Until The Night’
Wednesday, we discovered that Billy Joel’s love song “Rosalinda’s Eyes” shows nothing but contempt for humanity.
Yesterday, we discovered that Billy Joel’s “Los Angelenos” is not only an ersatz Steely Dan impersonation, but that it’s borderline racist.
This, of course, is only the perspective of one man–my colleague Liel–whom I am trying convince to give Billy Joel a friggin’ break. Two songs into the Billy Joel conversion and we have two strikes. But we’ll keep trying.
Here’s “Until The Night,” one of Billy Joel’s lesser-known tunes I sent Liel in the hopes of swaying him.
Like “Rosalinda’s Eyes,” this is from Billy Joel’s 52nd Street, released in 1978.
In this song, Joel, for all his preening, finally stops looking around and puts some humility on display. The result is “Until The Night,” a genuine love song about distance, need, insecurity, and even mortality. Is it full of bombast? Absolutely. Does he earn it? Yes.
Lyrically, he’s at his best here. Musically, he’s at his best here. “Until The Night,” despite not being a big hit, is not only considered by a number of fans and commenters to be his best song, but is also the centerpiece of a TERRIBLE German album of Billy Joel covers by Helena Vondráčková.
In addition to being a very able and committed nod to The Righteous Brothers, the song is textured with great vocal harmonies, humming, orchestral chimes, horns, some nylon strings, and what sounds like a church bell at the very end. But forget all that.
Instead consider the build that starts about four minutes into the song and carries through to what as to be one of the Top 5 Saxophone Solos of All Time™. When did people stop putting half-minute-long saxophone solos in music? I never thought I’d ask this question, but “Until The Night” begs it. You’d have to be some kind of monster to dislike this song.
This sounds like Barry Manilow on Quaaludes.
Oh, and “I’ll have my fears like every man / You’ll have your tears like every woman.”
Because “I never ask you where you go after I leave you in the morning,” I’ll never really know if you’re a real person but it
doesn’t matter because I’m really only interested in sleeping with you…