Memory Lane

Billy Joel Wrote A Song About My Sister?

I was in high school, and it immediately became one of my favorite albums (and apparently other people's as well). And, although it faced some stiff competition from the artist's earlier "Piano Man" album, "The Stranger" features a song that has always been very special to me. Because it's a song about my sister. Well, at least to me, it is …

Back in 1977, when the album was released, I was a teenager and Black was one of the few women at NYU's business school (and would ultimately not only survive but thrive in the male-dominated oil and gas industry). She's always been very intelligent and very independent, never thinking twice about speaking her mind, although at times I thought it curious when she wouldn't have anything to say. (I was too young to realize it was a "strategic" decision as she knew some things are best left unsaid.)

So, imagine my reaction when Billy Joel's song "She's Always A Woman" came out, and I heard him singing about a woman who, as described by almost every single lyric, could be my sister. Of course, I knew the song wasn't really about her, and even though I could simply enjoy the song as yet another great Billy Joel song, I quietly smiled to myself at its "hidden meaning" for me.

And that memory lay dormant … until I was recently driving home from Austin and was listening to The Billy Joel Channel on Sirius. After all, could there be any better music to enjoy while on a road trip? (Well, since it's just under a three-hour drive, I guess it's not really a road trip, but you know what I mean.) Anyway, one of the things I love about this channel is how Joel describes the "backstory" to featured songs.

So, there I was, cruising down a particularly scenic stretch of Highway 71 outside of Bastrop, Texas, when I first heard Joel talk about how "She's Always A Woman" was about his wife at the time. A woman who was, as the song states, "ahead of her time," as she was a tough and savvy music executive back when women executives were a rarity. And while she displayed all the seemingly negative characteristics that the song talks about, he expressed, with some annoyance, how people would focus on those things, ignoring the song's title and how, to him, "She was always a woman to me." Punching out each word in the title of the song as if to say, "I think you missed the point of the song."

But it was his very last comment that made me laugh as it probably most reminded me of my sister, as I could imagine her saying it,

That's how it is in business … stop kvetching.

New Year’s Eve is one of those nights (Black calls them “forced” celebrations) that often have great expectations attached to it. Many people make a big deal of it, but we prefer a lowkey approach, making the evening “special” by spending it with special people – for Red, her daughters, and for Black, close friends.

Some years it can be a bittersweet celebration (if loved ones have passed or no longer live close to home), but that can remind you of what’s most important.

So, let’s all toast to the promise and hope of a new year … and to champagne and toilet paper.

Red's HeadRed

New Year's Eve seems like the perfect time to stroll down memory lane, although I'm guessing your memories are much more interesting than mine.

Black's HeadBlack

"Interesting" is a subjective word. Regardless, are you talking about memories in general? Or, New Year's Eve celebrations?

Red's HeadRed

Actually, it was just a passing comment. But since you've always seemed to make a bigger deal out of New Year's Eve than I have, are there any years that really stand out?

Black's HeadBlack

Truth is the most memorable ones are the ones spent with celebrating with closest friends versus crowds. In fact, I think I have spent more than half of my New Year's Eves with John and Diana. Although, I will never forget bringing in 2000.
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We appreciate that not everyone celebrates Christmas, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a favorite Christmas memory. Interestingly, or is it ironically, Black, who barely tolerates the “forced” celebrations associated with holidays (and birthdays) and prefers to look forward to the future vs. reminisce about the past, likes to tell the story of the “Jewish Santa”. Black may see a deeper meaning to it, but for Red, it’s a favorite and heartwarming Christmas story, although she’d never tell Black that …

BLACK: I do not know at what age my Christmas memories began, but I do remember being very young and in awe of a very large – and very well decorated – Christmas tree in our family room. I even remember peeking down the stairs late one evening and seeing my mother standing extremely close to Santa Claus. OK, you might not find that an unusual memory, except my family is Jewish.

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Photo by klohka on iStock

As soon as Black wrote it, it became one of Red’s favorite posts, and now it’s a Red & Black Thanksgiving tradition. After all, what could be a better Turkey Day tradition than memories of a perfect turkey?

And it’s the perfect way to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving that, as Black says below, is … filled with memories that will last a lifetime.

Today is Thanksgiving, and I cannot help but wonder why we are online. However, everyone has their own way of celebrating. I know that Red is in the kitchen cooking – and watching a marathon of "The Godfather" movies. Which is perfect as turkeys take such a long time to cook and patience is important when you want it perfectly browned. So inviting, so appetizing, so … naked?

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