Billy Joel Turnstiles

Wax Wednesday #1: Turnstiles

Hi all! Your friendly neighborhood vinyl record connoisseur here. No, I’m not here to tell millennials to get their Spotify and iTunes off my analog lawn. Nor do I wish ramble about how things would be better if this were 1975 and everything looked like a nostalgia trip from your weird relative. Instead, I’d like to do something a bit different when discussing those lovable plastic disks.

If you too collect records and frequent a local record store every once and a while, you notice some of the vintage and used records that seem to end up on the shelves every visit. There just seem to be an endless supply of certain records or artists that somehow make their way into the “new arrivals” bin no matter how often you may frequent a store. This leads some (myself included) to associate this with the album being sub-par or even just plain bad. But these are exactly the records I’d like to focus on with this column. I’d like to shine a spotlight on some of the records that I have found to be some of my absolute favorites, yet can be sometimes found even in the dreaded dollar bin.

Record of the Week: “Turnstiles” by Billy Joel

Many of you may know Billy Joel as that guy your parents won’t stop listening to, or from his most famous song and karaoke favorite “Piano Man”. I fell victim to this viewpoint for a long time myself, especially when it came to record shopping. I would always see at least one of his albums in the “new arrivals” section or dollar bin. For years, I skipped past them. However, as I got older, I grew more of an affinity for his piano playing and sullen yet upbeat songwriting style. All this culminated when I came across his fourth album Turnstiles. Something struck me about this album that other albums by Joel never did.

Some have pointed to this album as Joel’s “growing up” album, and I would have to agree. While his earlier albums like Cold Spring Harbor and Piano Man have an aggression to them that can be attributed to his frustrations as an artist and as a younger man. This anger is not present in Turnstiles.  The album seems to have a somber remembrance to it that the previous did not. Whether that be the fictitious eulogy to New York in the albums closer “Miami 2017”, or the quiet contemplation of “Summer, Highland Falls”. However, the songs never come across as sad or angry. Rather, Joel seems to approach the memories he presents on Turnstiles comes across as content, even jovial at times.  Rather than let the past consume him, Joel recognizes what it was but has a great deal of reverence for how far he and the people around him have come.

This is not to say that I don’t have my minor nitpicks with the album. I think one or two of the songs are a bit lackluster, and the album can get repetitive and even preachy at times when discussing its themes. However, those small gripes aside, I believe the album is one of Joel’s greats and a fantastic addition to any vinyl or music lover’s collection, great or small. Not only is the album housed in some pretty nice artwork (every person including Joel represents one of the songs on the album), but odds are, you can find this record extremely easily in your local record store for most likely a very cheap price. I hope you enjoyed this look into one of my favorite overlooked records, and join me next week when I discuss my favorite country album of all time.