Indigo Girls v. Billy Joel? No contest.

In 1994, my aunt Nancy and my mom took me to see Billy Joel in Indianapolis at Market Square Arena (RIP). I was already a fan, but seeing him live pretty much cemented it for me. For years after that show, every time I went to a concert, I was disappointed that Billy Joel wasn’t there.

I saw some good people. I’m not about to sit here and tell you that Ben Harper was disappointing. Ben Harper was awesome, but we just didn’t have the connection that Billy Joel and I have. For one thing, I have been a Billy Joel fan for more than fifteen years. I spent my formative years listening to Billy Joel. When my friends were listening to Nirvana, Dave Matthews, Madonna, and whatever pop star-of-the-minute was getting radio play, I was all Billy Joel all the time. My CD (remember those?) collection from high school is sparse, to say the least. I had (and still have) every Billy Joel album every released, but other than that, a few cringe-worthy Celine Dion albums, some downright humiliating Shania Twain ones, and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (which I’ve decided not to be embarrassed about) pretty much rounded out my collection.

When I went to college, I went from a dial-up internet connection at home to an ethernet connection at IU, and there began my mp3 revolution. All the Elton John I could ever want! So you see that I was always a big dork.

It was while I was at IU that I saw Ben Harper in Indy with some of my DMB friends. I had been peripherally aware of Ben Harper, but I wasn’t a huge fan. I was impressed with him, but my mind kept recalling that time I saw Billy Joel in 1994.

The same thing happened when I saw Martina McBride (all four times, but not as much the third time) and Rob Thomas. I was absolutely thrilled and excited to see both of these people, and they both sound very good live. Martina McBride’s voice is amazing, and when I saw her live, it was doubly amazing. Rob Thomas’s appeal seems to be debatable. I didn’t realize that he wasn’t universally recognized as awesome until my sister’s boyfriend spoke out against him. I also noticed recently that Matchbox Twenty is the subject of some mocking on Gilmore Girls, but I have always liked Rob Thomas and Matchbox Twenty. My sister and I saw him solo at the Embassy right here in the Fort, and it was excellent.

Still, though, I missed Billy Joel. There is something indescribable in my relationship with Billy Joel. There is magic that cannot be replicated.

Or so I thought.

Enter the Indigo Girls.

I have never felt this way about music, but my thing for the Indigo Girls has gone beyond music. My Billy Joel fanship is rooted in childhood and so I love him in a way that can’t be compared to the way I feel about the Indigo Girls. I have an adult relationship with the Indigo Girls. (Does that sound dirty? No? Not even a little? Darn.) When I saw the Indigo Girls live for the first time, I did not miss Billy Joel. The whole experience was just too different from a Billy Joel concert for me to even think of him.

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little guilty. I use this blog frequently (and perhaps obsessively) to discuss and adore the Indigo Girls. If I had had a blog when I was fourteen, it would have been all about Billy Joel (and Mountain Dew—I used to be really excited about Mountain Dew), but I have the blog now. One of the things I like best about the blog is that it is a representation of what I was thinking about at different points of the past (almost) three years. Rereading old entries helps me remember how I felt when I first started listening to the Indigo Girls or when I first saw The L Word. So, yes, sometimes the recollecting is accompanied by eye-rolling.

My guilt over ignoring Billy Joel sometimes tricks me into wondering what I like better: Billy Joel or the Indigo Girls. Of course, it doesn’t matter and I couldn’t choose even if it did matter. Billy Joel has been with me since I was a kid—and I don’t mean “kid” the way that 50-year-olds refer to their 20s. I mean “kid” as in a person who is ten years old. It’s almost has if my sense of who I am formed around Billy Joel songs, and to reject him or replace him now would mean changing a fundamental part of my identity. Since identity is ever-evolving, the Indigo Girls have contributed as well. I am just now realizing how much Amy Ray and Emily Saliers have affected the way I write. I’ve largely put my novel on hold until I figure out what is going on with my voice. I feel like I’m on the edge of a transformation and I’m close to a new way of accessing my ideas.

It isn’t a contest between the Indigo Girls and Billy Joel, but if it were, it would be a draw. I need them both too much to choose.