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A Not-So-Innocent Man

By Brian | July 14, 2006 | Share on Facebook

So I’m listening to Billy Joel’s New Album – “Billy Joel – 12 Gardens Live,” which is a pretty good album, in that it’s a high quality recording of a bunch of live performances, some songs in which Billy Joel rarely, if ever, performs live. As a collector, it’s a must.

As a fan, it’s good, but could have been much better. Very little audience banter is here, which after all is what makes a live performance unique. Also, they seem to have intentionally removed the crowd noise, except for obvious moments (like those idiots who still cheer in Miami 2017 when he sings “and picked the Yankees up for free,” as if he’s talking about the New York Yankees…) Without the crowd noise, it’s like a studio recording on crack – high energy, good sound, etc. Having seen the show live, though, some more of the impromptu stuff would have been nice to have forever. The Piano Man track is the exception to this criticism, of course, and I’m glad I’ve got a non-bootleg version of that live.

The coolest thing about the album was a secret it revealed to me, which I missed during the live performance. As I said in my review of the concert:

He also sang all the high notes on Innocent Man himself, something he hasn’t done in years (my wife pointed out that his new-found sobriety might have been the enabler there).

Well, now that I listen to it on headphones, and without the excited rush that comes from a live concert, I can think of another reason he hit the notes: He transposed it down a whole step. The original track is recorded in C Major, and the performance is done in B Flat. Don’t get me wrong: he’s still a 58 year-old man singing a high B flat (and a high G in full-voice, as opposed to falsetto), but he obviously put in a bit of a comfort zone for himself on stage. I guess that’s the benefit of singing a song that was written & recorded twenty-three years ago – who remembers the original key?

Anyway, yet another of life’s mysteries solved…

Topics: Words about Music | 5 Comments »

5 Responses to “A Not-So-Innocent Man”

  1. Alice says at July 14th, 2006 at 5:02 am :
    You made me wanting to listen this too!

  2. Brian says at July 15th, 2006 at 12:20 pm :
    Well, Alice, I’m glad to hear it. Please come back & tell us what you thought…

  3. Jeff Porten says at July 21st, 2006 at 10:16 pm :
    While I’m thinking, man, what a music geek…. ;-)

  4. Anonymous says at November 3rd, 2006 at 2:00 pm :
    Hey –

    You know, of course, that practically every song on both discs is taken down around that same whole step. I don’t care, he sounds fantastic — better than he has in years — but I know, even from the first notes of Angry Young Man, it took me a little while to get used to hearing every song in a new key.

  5. Brian says at November 4th, 2006 at 1:36 am :
    Absolutely true. I noticed it on Innocent Man because my iPod kicked out an older version followed soon afterwards by the Gardens Live version. After I blogged about it, I’ve noticed that just about every song in the show was that way.

    Now I’m wondering if he actually played everything a whole step down on the piano, or if he just tuned the piano down a whole step electronically (his piano has been a hybrid piano/synthesizer for the last couple of tours…)

    Anyone know offhand?


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