Why did Billy Joel say,
BILLY JOEL… The 5th Beastie Boy?
From Mike D’s GR article, “BILLY JOEL: He DID Start The Fire, And If He Didn’t, Then Who The Hell Did"…
Billy Joel. Consumate Entertainer. Piano man. Formerly happily married to Christie and author of so many fireside classics like the one that goes, “You’re still having fun/And you’re still the one” (a personal favorite of mine which enjoy shouting in the shower). But most importantly: The 5th B-Boy.
Now before we get into defining exactly what we mean by “The 5th B-Boy,” we should probably answer another question that’s been asked many times and which should have already occured to you by now — like namely: “Who in the hell is The 4th B-Boy?” Strictly in terms of seniority it would have to be DJ Hurricane, the man who’s given us full clout and plenty of elbow room on the wheels of steel since replacing Yo, MTV Rap’s Dr. Dre in 1986. Next in line is probably Ricky Powell, who, according to Bob Mack’s 1991 Spin cover story, is deserving of the title because he allegedly embodies certain aspects of the B-Boy ethos (intoxicated athletics, easy snappin', etc.). Then again there’s long time engineer and super-producer Mario C., who has kept it real at the mixing desk both in the studio and live in concert for more than enough time to merit serious consideration.
And last, but certainly not least, we’ve been blessed with the limitless talents of Keyboard Money Mark Nishita, songwriting partner, master carpenter, on-stage performer, on-court point guard and, most recently, solo artist and father of a new baby boy, Nico. Each of these colleagues are key players on a squad that’s rounded out by pedigreed Puerto Rican percussionist Eric Bobo and pedigreed punk rock percussionist/drum tech Amery Smith (AKA AWOL), both of whom are relative newcomers to our particular fold but who are by no means wet behind the ears.
So for all intents and purposes it’s best to think of this squad, our touring band (including luggage lugger-arounder and mascot) Ricky Powell, as one big 4th B-Boy. OK, but back to: why Billy Joel? And why is he, of all people, The 5th b-boy? Because the Biz sings his songs? Because he’s the same size as Charlotte Hornets point guard Mugsey Bogues, A Tribe Called Quest’s Phife Dog and five foot folkie Paul Simon (whose songs the Biz also sings)? Because he and Elton John did the “Piano Men” tour which his Royal Highness The Biz Mark called “the most awesome tour ever”? Or is it what the Dean of Rock Criticism Robert Christgau called “his knack for the tearjerker”? He doesn’t really have any beats or funky breaks, or dance steps for that matter. I mean, even Bette Midler has a beat.
So what makes Billy Joel worthy of mention? In these instances it’s good to consult an enlightened mind, and we consulted no less than Les McCann himself. In reference to his heartfelt cover of Billy’s classic tune, “Just The Way You Are,” Les once said that “the first moment I heard Billy Joel singing this song, I knew I had to do it. After doing our different versions in the studio, our producer said ‘let’s take it on downtown.” Thanks, Les, for pointing out the mobility, both upward and downward, of such a fine Billy Joel composition, but there are plenty of other reasons for giving Mr. Joel this somewhat dubious distinction.
Speaking geographically, Billy is from Strong Island, and he sings about it. Socially, he was married to a supermodel (and thus must have hung in that scene for a while, not unlike rap mogul Russell Simmons). And just like Russel, come summertime you can catch Billy at his Mackin' pad in the Hamptons. On the other hand, Billy also takes great pains and goes to great lengths to, if not keep it real, then at least give us the real deal. After all, he did give props to Allentown in that one song and the fishermen in that other, plus he had that record cover where he displayed his rebelliousness by throwing a brick trough that window in his Neil Schon kind of stylo de pelo, long before the Wu-Tang Clan were on the case. By the way, my boy the Old Dirty Bastard even tries to sing a little like old B.J., but you know what? Fuck that.
I’m sick of trying to justify Billy Joel because ultimately I’ve got no real rhyme or reason as to why we’re giving Billy all these mad props. It’s just that his whole thing about ‘we didn’t start the fire’ is so stoopid that we figured he would be the perfect image for the cover of this ‘zine. We were even going to call this tour the “Billy Joel Tour,” but that idea got shot down because then we would’ve had to explain ourselves to Billy and not just you. So lets just take a moment of silence and give up a crazy shout out to the 5th B Boy, Billy Motherfucking Joel. He didn’t start the fire, but he got on the mic, I mean wrench, and was sporting the Dickies coveralls in that “Uptown Girl” video (not to mention Tretorn tennis sneakers on that one record cover). So give it up.
To help improve the meaning of these lyrics, visit “Do It” by Beastie Boys (Ft. Biz Markie & Mark Nishita) Lyrics and leave a comment on the lyrics box