Thursday, November 10, 2016

"The Longest Time" by Billy Joel

Song#:  1845
Date:  03/24/1984
Debut:  59
Peak:  14
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop, Doo Wop

Pop Bits:  Joel's concept album An Innocent Man was a significant, upbeat comeback following the dark, mature detour of The Nylon Curtain. It would be a 7x platinum seller thanks to its hit songs, which included this fourth single. The tune would be third from the album to reach #1 on the AC chart while just stopping short of the Pop Top 10.

ReduxReview:  Although the album's previous singles had a retro feel to them, this one closely replicated and captured that early rock doo wop sound. It was actually kind of a ballsy move to push this track out as a single. Who was going to listen to (let alone buy) an a cappella-ish doo wop single in an era of new wave, synthpop, and rock? Somehow Joel still had the magic touch to draw in folks and the retro tune caught on. I think most of the support came from AC listeners and older listeners, but with MTV still embracing Joel, a lot of the kids came on board as well. I'm not the biggest fan of doo wop, but I do enjoy this song. It's a well-written and performed tune that was a nice homage to a specific era in pop music.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Like the other songs on An Innocent Man, this one was also inspired by early styles and artists of the pop/rock era. The song pays tribute to doo wop vocal groups of the 50s and early 60s. One inspiration seems to have been the Philly vocal group The Tymes. They had a big hit with their first single "So Much in Love," which reached #1 in 1963.  2) Although this sounds like an a cappella performance, it is not one by definition. First, there is a bass used in the song and instruments are not allowed in a cappella tunes. Second, all the vocal parts were not done by a group, but by one person - Joel. Initially, Joel intended to hire a vocal group to come in and sing with him, but it didn't work out. So producer Phil Ramone suggested that Joel do all the vocals himself. Over the years, many a cappella groups have covered this song with a singer performing the bass part.


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