New Music Recs: “Turn the Lights Back On” by Billy Joel

Just finished listening to this song and had to run over here to talk about it! I was (impressed? Surprised?) that Billy Joel doesn’t sound any different vocally. Musically, “Turn the Lights Back On” is so satisfying. I love choruses that settle, if that makes sense: they end on a down note. That feels like closure. Every time that hit in “Turn the Lights Back On,” it was lovely. Thematically, the song reminds me of “One More Time” by blink-182. The music giants of yesteryear are releasing new music (in Billy Joel’s case, for the first time in 17 [!] years) and using it to reflect on the past. But here, Billy Joel doesn’t linger in angst; he never has, really. Instead, he’s clear-eyed: “Stuck in a frame, unable to change/I was wrong.” His reflection is the opportunity to change (“I’m late, but I’m here right now.”) even if it might not be enough (“Did I wait too long/To turn the lights back on?”).

The song didn’t make me tear up like “One More Time” did. But it did make me emotional. Misty-eyed, as my friend and I say. These days, we’re all thinking about the past, and, as usual, music is our escape valve.

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