Choosing Billy Joel for this week’s throwback video was easy. Tickets recently went on sale for his April 18th concert at Bank of America Stadium. But deciding which of his videos to feature was a challenge.
Over the decades, Billy made a lot of music videos, although I’m not sure that’s the right term for them. So many of his videos were really more like short films with characters, plots, period costumes, and elaborate sets. One good example is “Allentown,” which also happens to be my favorite Billy Joel song.
Released in 1982 on The Nylon Curtain album, “Allentown” serves as a reminder of the decline of America’s steel industry and the struggles of blue collar families who depended on manufacturing jobs in places such as Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. The video begins with hopeful G.I.’s returning from World War II and ends with Billy singing in the ruins of a shuttered mill. In between, it’s like a Broadway musical about the working class.
Ultimately, “Allentown” tells a story that still resonates with people from economically depressed communities across the country. One of the reasons why Billy Joel has been such an enduring cultural presence is that, despite his wealth and fame, he has always been a voice for the common folk.
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