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Sadness or Euphoria?

is one of the greatest songwriters in modern American . In my book, Joel stands tall alongside Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, Carole King, Jackson Brown, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Smokey Robinson, and . Of course, your list may vary.

My favorite Billy Joel song? Summer Highland Falls from his 1976 album Turnstiles.

At Joel's Shea Stadium concert, he introduced the song as being “for all the manic-depressives out here tonight.” Why? He says he wrote the music “to reflect the highs and lows of manic .” As he put it, the reference is not just in the lyrics but also in the rising and falling arpeggios that make up the melody.

Sadness or Euphoria?

Songfacts says: “The song has a musical piano theme: the left-hand plays the depression part, going slowly up and down, while the right hand is the manic part, playing a bouncy bit.”

The song opens with a line that could be a simple distillation of Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities:

“They say that these are not the best of times. They're the only times I'll ever know.”

Joel may have written this song to describe a particular condition, but I think it's a perfect description of the times we're in. Moreover, the more I listen to the words, the more I see the similarities.

“Now we are forced to recognize our inhumanity. Our reason coexists with our insanity.”

Think about the news these days. Regardless of which end of the seesaw you're sitting on, there's a good chance you believe you are rational and the people who disagree with you are insane.

Sadness or Euphoria?

Pick a side:

is real. Global warming is a hoax.

Masks were required for public safety. Masks were an infringement of your rights.

Racism is systemic. Racism is an excuse.

You believe whatever you believe with all your heart, and no one will your mind.

This phenomenon was neatly summed up in the 1945 periodical  & Selling, “My mind is made up. Don't confuse me with the facts.”

Or, as Billy Joel put it:

“So we'll argue and we'll compromise, and realize that nothing's ever changed.”

wrote about this in The “If you believe that climate change is real, it must be because someone paid you off with a research grant. If you believe the president committed an impeachable offense… it's only because you want power for your party.”

Billy Joel explained it in 1976:

“For all our mutual experience, our separate conclusions are the same.”

Friedman again, “…there is no center, there are only sides; there's no truth, there are only versions; there are no facts, there's only a contest of will.”

Yes or no? Good or bad? Black or white? Up or down? Right or wrong? Democrat or Republican? Bi-polar disease or today's global reality?

Sadness or Euphoria?

Billy Joel summed it up almost 50 years ago, “Though we choose between reality and madness, it's either sadness or euphoria.”

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