I’ll be the first one to admit I’m not up on the zeitgeist, particularly when it comes to music. I’m still stuck in the sixties and seventies, and it’s music from this era playing in the background as I write this. But I’ve recently noticed something peculiar going on. We baby boomers have become accustomed to corporations using our generation’s anthems to sell their products, like Ford cashing in on the Rolling Stones’ Start Me Up, or Beatles songs used to sell diapers at Target. But I’m referring to something far more sinister.
Back in 1973, Billy Joel produced the song that would become his hallmark—Piano Man. I can’t analyze music the way I can art so I can’t tell you if Piano Man is a good song or not, I just know I’ve been moved by it since the first time I heard Billy pound those piano keys.
And the waitress is practicing politics
As the businessman slowly gets stoned
Yes, they're sharing a drink they call loneliness
But it's better than drinkin' alone
Still gets to me, but I’m a sentimental softy and unapologetic about it. So here’s my problem. As you might imagine, I know all the lyrics to this song, and several months ago when it aired on my RAV’s radio as I drove to my morning swim, I noticed something missing in the song. Surely it was my involvement with driving that caused me to miss one of my favorite passages, but a few days later there it was again, Piano Man blaring from my car radio. I tuned in closely for my favorite part, and again it was missing:
Now Paul is a real estate novelist
Who never had time for a wife
And he's talkin' with Davy, who's still in the Navy
And probably will be for life
Davy, who’s still in the Navy and probably will be for life, was conspicuously missing. Where had he gone? I’ve always sympathized with Davy. In my mind he never matures into a Dave or David, probably enlisted in the Navy when he was eighteen and now, like an institutionalized inmate, is terrified of release.
I realize that songs, like movies on TV, are often shortened and I don’t expect to hear the long version of ballads like Don McLean’s American Pie, but Piano Man isn’t a particularly long song. I mentioned this to Mrs. Chatterbox, who’s much more into the zeitgeist than I am, and at first she didn’t believe me when I said Davy was MIA.
But several days ago she came home from work and said, “Piano Man came on the air while I was driving home. I listened closely, and you’re right. No Davy!”
I was shocked. I’m not told very often that I’m right. But she did confirm my suspicions that Davy had disappeared. Was Davy a casualty of our wars to provide Homeland security? Were the lyrics considered anti-Navy, and thereby anti-military and unpatriotic? Is Davy no longer sitting at the bar listening to the Piano Man on your radio?
Davy—where are you?
Is Davy still hanging around your radio? Check for me the next time you hear Piano Man.