What are you listening to?

     I once read something that Stephen King wrote about writing. It went something like this, " In order to be a good writer, you have to be a good reader..." I think this is relevant to music, too. I always try to challenge myself to listen to new things and hear new ideas in things I've listened to a thousand times.

    This week I've found myself listening to Billy Joel's Piano Man album. It starts off with a tune called Traveling Prayer, hits the title track, and winds through some real classics, including the Ballad of Billy the Kid and finishing with Captain Jack. I don't listen to Billy Joel all that much but of the material I've listened to, I think I enjoy this album the most. Have you ever heard the mandolin in Piano Man? There's a banjo and a mouth harp in Traveling Prayer and the dialogue between the piano and every other instrument in the ensemble, including the strings section and drums, during the Ballad of Billy the Kid is just fantastic. 

     I had some driving to do this week so I made a mix cd with this album, a certain Adele song, and several songs from Green Day's American Idiot. It's a strange mix but I'm digging it. I've decided to make a geography mix, or a playlist with songs with geographical references in it. So far I've got Billy Joel's You're My Home, James Taylor's Sweet Baby James, Tom Petty's Louisiana Rain, James Taylor and Mark Knoefler's duet Sailing to Philadelphia, and a few others. What would you add to this list? What are you listening to? Most importantly, have you noticed the mandolin in Piano Man before?