Billy Joel’s The Stranger album was one of the first albums I ever owned. Yes, on vinyl, back in the dinosaur days… the first time vinyl was cool. I went on to purchase the piano music for the entire album (the only part I was ever able to play was the first 20 keys from Scenes From An Italian Restaurant, but I tried. I learned all the lyrics (by playing the album over and over and over again). My thrifty nature is such that I listened to every single song to get my money’s worth… and learned every single song by heart. Even today I get to the grocery store and have no idea what I came for, but I can sing every single song on this album. It will look wonderful on a resume, I know.
The album represented a world for me I had never experienced. I grew up on a faux-farm in a small river town. We raised chickens, few cows, rabbits and the most evil goat in the world. Everyone in the town had the same skin color. I had never met or even seen an EYE-talian before. They sounded exotic from the album. Three different colors of wine? Apartments? Fighting? Moving out? Names with lots of vowels? Squealing car tires in music? It was a fascinating education in twelve inches. Ok, twenty four because you needed to flip the album.
My favorite was… and still is The Stranger.
Well we all have a face
That we hide away forever
And we take them out and show ourselves
When everyone has gone*
Hearing this, I realized for the first time that I was not the only person on earth that worked to modify her being to fit her setting. Only showing certain people certain parts of me. It was eye opening to think that were others of us out there. So many in fact that a song was written about us. With the addition of age and the internet to allow others to share their thoughts, I can see now where it could also be about infidelity, etc. But even now, it makes me think of the different faces we put on to blend in society and how few people get to see the real us.
* lyrics displayed from The Stranger by Billy Joel.