Sonic Monday: Shout Out Louds and Billy Joel

Ferris: Tonight I Have To Leave It by Shout Out Louds

Shout Out Louds - Via

The Shout Out Louds have a special place in my heart. Not only was their debut album, Howl Howl Gaff Gaff, on constant repeat during the summer of 2005, but when I saw them in person in July 2008 at the Brooklyn venue Warsaw, it was and still is the best concert I’ve been to in person.

With Saturday Looks Good To Me opening, the two-band billed were pitch perfect. The Shout Out Louds owned the room from the first chord. They mixed in songs from the album they were supporting at the time, Our Ill Wills, with songs from their first album. There is no one particular moment at the concert that stands out for me. Instead, it was after the show, when the crowd seemed to be walking in a caravan to the subway. In the moment, it was almost as if none of us wanted the evening to end.

The first single off of Our Ill Wills was “Tonight I Have to Leave It.” When Our Ill Wills came out, I remember one review saying it had a more autumnal, chillier feel than Howl Howl Gaff Gaff, which despite several sad songs, was more of a spring album.

With lead singer Adam Olenius singing about leaving and searching for something real, it’s fitting that the music video takes place on an ocean-faring freighter. With nods to the ships port of call and life on the open seas, the video feels cold and welcoming at the same time. Kind of how I imagine life in Scandinavia to be.

Rusty: Worst Comes to Worse by Billy Joel

When Billy Joel released Piano Man in 1973, it was a triumphant return to music that would resonate for decades to come.  Fed up with his old record label, William Martin adopted his middle name and hit the LA music scene and piano bars.  It was there, along with some of his greatest hits, that he penned “New Mexico.”  Released on Piano Man with the new monicker “Worst Comes to Worst”, the song encapsulated the the album.  Weaving between friendly yet mysterious women, life on the road, and an introspective evaluation of life in the present, the song remains one of Joel’s most underrated (in my opinion).

Billy Joel has aged considerably but still delivers the goods- Photo courtesy of Flickr user Jeaneeem

In the summer of 2009, I was sitting on my front step and surfing the web when I noticed that Joel was hosting a show in Hersey Park that night.  I immediately contacted my mother and asked if she would like to go (Joel is one of the few bonds we share).  It was well-worth the phone call.  Traveling for hours to see an aged but unmatched performer, my experience that day was the epitome of freedom and traveling for all the right reasons.  Even as we waited in traffic for an hour to leave the venue, knowing that we would be home close to dawn, my mother and myself lived in the moment and enjoyed the impromptu road trip.  After all, we had just watched a legend.

As Joel sings in “Worst Comes to Worse”,

Lightning and thunder
Flashed across the roads we drove upon
Oh, but it’s clear skies we’re under
When I am together, when I sing the song.

I hope that you all have had those moments, and plan more for this summer.  No matter the hassle or weight upon your mind, sometimes a simple trip or activity can change your whole perspective- at the very least, for one night.  Years later, I savor the trip and plan on many more this year.  Sure, sometimes it takes planning and resources.  What’s more important, though, is that you make the decision in the first place.  As Joel would put it, “It doesn’t matter which direction.”


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