My father and I often listened to Billy Joel together as I grew up, and I eventually formed nostalgic connections to Joel’s music. While music is well known as a conductor of nostalgia, this paper explores the idea that the nostalgia I feel while listening to specific songs in Joel’s catalog is not simply a result of the indexical connections I have built with these tracks. Rather, it is a result of a “nostalgia topic” in Joel’s work. This paper compares the soundtrack and select works from Joel’s catalog to reveal that there is no one gesture, melody, or harmonic progression that Joel relies on to create these connections. Instead, Joel amasses a collection of differing musical elements from his nostalgic soundtrack that he then places into the care of the piano. I therefore argue that Joel’s use of the piano evokes the nostalgia topic in his work.
Waters, Kendall. “‘When I Wore a Younger Man’s Clothes”: The Nostalgia Topic in the Music of Billy Joel.” James Madison Undergraduate Research Journal 8, no. 1 (2021): 16-23. Accessed Month day, year. http://commons.lib.jmu.edu/jmurj/vol8/iss1/2.