Monday, December 23, 2013

Awesome 80's Video #4: "She's Right on Time" by Billy Joel

It's time for a special CHRISTMAS edition of the Awesome 80's video, and today I spotlight a song which, were it not for the clip, I wouldn't associate with the holidays at all. But, oh, what a Christmas video it is! From "The Nylon Curtain" LP, I give you...

She’s Right on Time

Yes, it's the Long Island Lover himself, Billy Joel, in this 1982 clip, which offers a very Joelian melody and certainly features Billyian—nah, I prefer Joelian—singing throughout. I don’t think I ever heard this on the radio, though, and the video never seems to make it into those holiday video blocks you see despite the first line talking about turning on all the Christmas lights because baby’s coming home tonight. He doesn’t sing about jingle bells in the song, but the video shows him trimming the tree, so that’s more than enough to make it a holiday video in my book. Or at least on my blog.

Actually, Joel or whoever conceived this video (probably not Joel) decided not to sentimentalize the love song, but rather to go the other way and make a farce. Here the regular guy appeal of Joel works like a charm. He’s primping and looks well groomed and has a bunch of photos in his pad that suggest he gets around, but lest you think he’s trying to play some macho stud, look at what happens in the video. While his woman makes her way over, he readies his place with disastrous results. I mean, one goofy thing after another happens. Stuff falls, crashes, sparks literally fly, the place is a mess, there is kind of a false end to the song, then an even bigger accident happens, and all the while Joel—not exactly the master thespian—provides just enough of a nonchalant but mildly concerned deadpan to carry it along. At least, I think he’s underplaying. The important thing is this video just gives us a good series of funny mishaps. And did I mention this video BREAKS STUFF? In the span of 4 minutes, Joel somehow does even more damage here than he has in almost 50 years of getting behind the wheel.

If this weren’t enough, his ladyfriend experiences her own calamities while walking to Billy’s apartment, though breaking a heel doesn’t exactly compare to nearly setting a good chunk of Manhattan ablaze. Still, she shows up at the door as weary as Joel is, and they finally get together. Here we notice something remarkable: Joel’s girlfriend is African-American. She actually has that classic 1984/1985 young black woman look, in hairstyle, makeup, even skin tone, which is pretty remarkable considering it’s 1982. They don’t make a big deal out of it, or any deal out of it, and maybe I should feel embarrassed for doing so myself, but, hey, you got to respect this video’s cultural relevance considering that the finale features the first interracial kiss on television.

NOTE: Don’t let the fact that Kirk and Uhura kissed 15 years earlier make that last sentence any less relevant. Also, ignore the fact that they don’t actually kiss at the end but just gently kind of nuzzle their heads together. Hey, forget it, I’m on a roll. Besides, it is actually a sweet ending. After all, as Billy himself sang, “Leave a Tender Moment Alone.”

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