Monday, June 3, 2013

Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway) by Billy Joel

At the crossroads of science fiction and rock music you have the good:



 . . . the bad:



Yes, I am categorizing this song as “bad.” You want to make something out it?

Then there’s the um. . .



Science fiction and rock has melded into some amazing musical creations and some  painful musical atrocities. Rock music like science fiction often works as a commentary on society reflecting the future of as a way to examine the present. So while throughout rock music there have been some misguided attempts at melding these two genres, there have been some really amazing ones like "Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)."



After spending time in Los Angeles and becoming disillusioned by the music scene and the culture there, Billy Joel returned to New York. He marked this by the release of his album Turnstiles. This album featured songs reflecting this move like “Say Goodbye To Hollywood,” and odes to his hometown like “New York State Of Mind.” This album ended with “Miami 2017,” which portrayed a despotic post-apocalyptic New York, where people had fled to Miami for refuge.

Joel wasn’t that far off. The New York of 1976 was not the Disney Store-Giuliani cleaned up time square that we know now. It was the Taxi Driver, crime-ridden and about to default city that many viewed as a hopeless center of sin.

Loving a city that many disregarded as falling apart, Joel responded with “Miami 2017” singing about watching the city burning down, but continuing to play a concert regardless of the destruction. This was a song about how that even in the apocalypse of iconic buildings and the sinking of Manhattan itself, the spirit of the city lived on through a concert that would not stop.

When the attacks on the World Trade Center buildings on 9/11 occurred, people became cautious to show images of these buildings and the destruction of New York. Instead of going along with this, Billy Joel proudly performed “Miami 2017,” at The Concert For New York.



While his words seemed less prophetic and more like a reflection of actual events, when he sang “we went right on with show,” it meant something to the city and the rest of the country.
instead of mourning the fact that Joel and all of New York witnessed 9/11, the song reminded all of that we are survivors and to take pride in living through this experience.

Through the clouds of dust there’s the music and the spirit that no destruction could silence.

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