Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Billy Joel - "Allentown"

Allentown - The Nylon Curtain

(Debuted November 27, 1982, Peaked #17, 21 Weeks on the Chart)

Among all of Billy Joel's albums, The Nylon Curtain is perhaps one of his best conceptual statements, as well as one that is easily forgotten amongst bigger and poppier statements like Glass Houses and An Innocent Man. One of the themes explored in that album is the one that leads it off in "Allentown," which is about the death of the steel industry and its effect on those who rely on it to make a living.

It's a message I definitely picked up on, as a kid who grew up in a Northern town that had been largely built around one industry (in my case, paper mills). I watched those mills around me shut down, one at a time, until most of them were gone. When our parents were growing up, it wasn't uncommon for them to be told to try and get a job in one of the mills and seeking the certainty of a regular check and the protection of the union. However, that same advice wasn't given to me and my peers as it became obvious that the jobs there were drying up. Instead, I was encouraged to seek my fortune elsewhere, and that's what I did.

Today, there is a lot of talk about jobs and workers, not only from the politicians but from the voters as well. If anything, it's not a new concept; here are lines of a song from 30 years ago that explains the same situation as others are living through now.

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