(Every artist has a soundtrack that reveals their musical journey. But what is the one recording that proved to be a transformative moment? In this ongoing series, GRAMMY-winning and -nominated artists will reveal their answer to the deceptively difficult question: What recording changed your life?)
"And So It Goes"
Storm Front (1989)
"'And So It Goes,' by Billy Joel, is maybe my favorite song of all time.
"I used to listen to that record when I was in seventh grade. I heard him do it on some kind of award show. I know Billy Crystal was hosting. He introduced him and said, 'Here's Billy Joel, who is going to play one of my favorite songs, "And So it Goes."'
"And he started playing and singing. And my eyes got watery. It made me cry. Because lyrically, it's probably my favorite song. I used to recite it to girls in [the] eighth and ninth grades, as a poem that I wrote. That's how amazing the lyrics are, [they're] very heartfelt.
"The opening line is: 'In every heart there is a room/A sanctuary safe and strong/To heal the wounds from lover's past/Until a new one comes along.'
"Then it's: 'I spoke to you in cautious tones/You answered me with no pretense/And still I feel I said too much/ My silence is my self-defense.'
"And I love this part: 'And every time I've held a rose/It seems I only felt the thorns/And so it goes and so it goes/And so will you soon, I suppose/But if my silence made you leave/Then that would be my worst mistake/So I will share this room with you/And you can have this heart to break.'
"Isn't that beautiful? Lyrically, it's the best song ever.
"And on top of that, it's just him and piano. He's playing and singing. And the piano playing accompanying his singing is so simple and beautiful. I've always loved Billy Joel's touch on piano. He's one of my favorite pianists. His touch has a spirit that is amazing, and a warmth to it that I love. He totally brings that song to life with his piano playing. He knows how to play something that totally suits the song. The piano is not just playing the changes, he's playing the mood.
"[When I] used to recite it for girls, they would cry! So it worked. Yeah, totally.
"This is one of those songs I will always have in my possession, on my iPod, on my playlist."
(Robert Glasper Experiment are currently nominated for Best R&B Performance for "Gonna Be Alright F.T.B." with Ledisi and Best R&B Album for Black Radio.)
(Paul Zollo is the senior editor of American Songwriter and the author of several books, including Songwriters On Songwriting, Conversations With Tom Petty and Hollywood Remembered. He's also a songwriter and Trough Records artist whose songs have been recorded by many artists, including Art Garfunkel, Severin Browne and Darryl Purpose.)