Album Challenge Day 2: The Nylon Curtain by Billy Joel

I think this was the last album I owned on vinyl in the BCDE (Before CD Era). It came out in 1982. My two best friends gave it to me for my 16th birthday (in 1984). For 20+ years I had a box of vinyl (years after I had a working turntable) in the basement. They were pretty musty smelling, so I took them (including this one) to Half-Price Books before we moved to Bemidji. And then a couple years later I found a really high end (but older) turntable at Goodwill for $5 and started collecting vinyl. So now, I’ve purchased it, plus many other albums again. I won’t tell you about the copy Sgt. Peppers (even with the little cutout Beatle characters) that I let stupidly go.

Nylon Curtain is one of my favorite pop/rock albums. When I was 16, I had the sheet music book for it, and could play rough approximations of some of the songs. But, man, Mr. Joel writes some pretty complicated chord progressions and melodies. Like Joshua Tree yesterday, I think this album is damn near perfect, with every song fitting in where it does. This album also works really well on vinyl. You have to stand up (or sit down) and flip the album over after side one ends with “Goodnight Saigon” fading to the sound of Huey helicpoters flying away. A perfect break before you continue with side two.

The lead song, Allentown, is actually my least favorite song on the album. I was always a little put off how hard it leaned into pop. However, if you look at it more carefully, you’ll find that it is a damn fine Woody Guthrie-like folk song lyrically. So, I’ve reimagined it as that.

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