I drive quite a bit so I listen to a lot of Sirius radio. I’ve been enjoying the limited edition Billy Joel channel which has been on the airways for much longer than expected. It’s quite interesting to hear him discuss his inspirations as well as his unique perspectives on his 40+ year music career even if somewhat entwined with typical rock n roll pretension. With such an extensive catalog, it goes without saying that I would have a number of favorites tunes as well as a small library of songs I’m not fond of.
My Favorite Billy Joel songs (in no particular order):
We Didn’t Start the Fire
This song makes for a great drinking game. We used to try and recite the lyrics and drink when we got to the point where all we could remember was “Brooklyn has a winning team” and “JFK…blown away…what else do I have to say”.
The shitty bar I frequent down the road from my house probably has a John, a Davey and a microphone that smells like a beer (especially when Smokin’ Dave shows up for a concert). It’s easy to follow along… it’s like the Cole’s notes version of American Pie if you don’t have eight and a half minutes to kill.
Scenes from an Italian Restaurant
Inspired by the B side of the Abbey Road album, the mini symphony reminds me of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and G ‘n R’s November Rain and is reminiscent of the nights when I had a bottle of red AND a bottle of white and really hoped people like Brenda and Eddie wouldn’t work out in the end.
She’s Always a Woman
Billy Joel has a number of sultry ballads but this has got to be my favorite. First, it was a late seventies testament to the power of feminism. Second, in my late and very confused teen years I had a girl tell me over my long-corded phone as I laid on my waterbed that this song was her in a nutshell so it certainly has a little sentimental value.
This song is good to help vent after a bad day. In addition, it kicked off the season 2 premier of the quirky show “911” which saw a number of chaotic episodes including a renegade pressure cooking reminding us all that second hand slow cookers aren’t the only appliance to be wary of.
Call me a sucker for songs about peril at sea but this haunting ballad fits in the same category as Gordon Lightfoot’s the Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald and the Hip’s Nautical Disaster.
My Least favorite Billy Joel songs
All for Leyna
Other than a melody I really don’t like, Leyna sounds like a real bitch and brings back memories of Winnie Cooper on the Wonder Years.
Any song with the same name as a strip bar on Yonge Street needs a lot of substance to get that vision out of my head and this song just can’t do it.
Big Man on Mulberry Street
Despite being inspired by the Bruce Willis/Cybil Shepherd show “Moonlighting”, I just can’t get into this song. It’s a little too broadway or something. I think I’d rather listen to Al Jarreau’s theme song instead.
Lullaby (Goodnight, my Angel)
I find this song is far from a lullaby and often thought the hard piano strokes and pensive lyrics would keep me up all night. Then again, it can’t worse than listening to any rendition of the rather morbid Rock-a-bye baby.
I find some of his less appealing songs seem to be about women including the aforementioned Leyna as well as Laura, Judy, Josephine and Rosalinda. Rosalinda also has a song about her eyes and could be one of the more loungy songs in his whole repertoire. That said, I’m sure even a $15 hotel cocktail wouldn’t make me appreciate it anymore but let’s talk about her “I”s anyway.
Rosalinda is a downtown establishment which focuses on Mexican, vegan cuisine. The bright decor is cross between a cantina and a greenhouse complete with Mexican accents throughout. Given its convenient location, it makes for a great lunch venue and at night transforms into a place a little more characteristic of a GVG foodie function.
Mexican cuisine is usually known for simplicity more than innovation but Rosalinda’s commitment to veganism other than beans and rice forces thought outside the box. Perhaps the best example was the young coconut ceviche $14 finished with with apple, celery, pickled shallot and herb leche de tigre. The tender coconut could have easily been mistaken for a scallop and the pleasant acidity was a great palate cleanser.
Another innovative dish was the jackfruit pibil taco ($12) with crispy taro root and slaw. Jackfruit is a spot-on substitution for this traditional pork dish which was topped with fragrant slaw and a faux crema sauce.
Rosalinda digs a little deeper into the tradition of Mexico than nachos with salsa and guacamole. Instead, sikil pak served with totopos is the preferred dip and vessel of choice. Sikil pak is a thick dip made from pumpkin seeds and was offered verde vs rojo in which I preferred the former.
Another inspired dish was the roasted heirloom carrots sitting atop mole, Mexico’s national culinary treasure. Subtle yet complex, it paired nicely with the carrots which provided a vessel with both textural and flavour contrast.
To be honest, before reading the menu I don’t think I could tel you exactly what Tijuana-style broccolini ($14) was. According to Rosalinda it was served with grilled baby gem lettuce, jalapeno caper salsa, Caesar aioli and crispy garlic. It seemed a little like the Godfather meeting Pancho Villa over a salad.
Rosalinda offers a central lunch spot or what I presume is a more lively night in an authentic environment. Although advertised as a vegan spot, the emphasis is much more on authenticity rather than glorifying the anti-meat movement. Seasonal and local ingredients get transformed into traditional Mexican inventions that are both innovation and inspired. It’s fresh and fun. In the end, these Scenes from a Mexican restaurant reminded me that Rosalinda is always a woman despite the fact her “I”s turned out to be better than her eyes…or at least Billy’s loungy account of them.