COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Colorado College hosts “It’s Still Rock and Rock to Me: The Music and Lyrics of Billy Joel,” the first-ever scholarly symposium on the music and lyrics of Billy Joel. The public musicology conference, held Oct. 7-8, seeks to shed light on Joel’s songs and why they’re so meaningful for so many people.
“Colorado College is pleased to host this conference,” says Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler. “In keeping with the interdisciplinary goals of a liberal arts college, the conference brings together scholars from a range of fields to explore the music and talents of a well-known musician. The program is aimed at connecting music scholars with non-academic audiences.”
“Billy Joel’s career has spanned more than five decades, yet by comparison to musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, virtually no scholarly attention has been given to Joel’s music,” says CC Assistant Professor of Music Ryan Bañagale, who is organizing the conference with Joshua S. Duchan at Wayne State University, author of the forthcoming book, “Billy Joel: America’s Piano Man.”
“In the spirit of Joel’s music, this conference seeks to provide academically oriented insights in an accessible and approachable manner,” says Bañagale. The conference fee for the two-day event is $20, making the program accessible to many.
“Billy Joel’s catalog encompasses a diverse range of musical styles, coupled with compelling stories in the lyrics, that make it a rich trove for musical study,” says Duchan.
The keynote event is “Take the Phone off the Hook,” a live phone interview with Joel, conducted by Bañagale and Duchan. The conference includes approximately 30 presentations from scholars in musicology, ethnomusicology, music theory, history, comparative literature and related fields. Sessions include a panel of two or three presentations, followed by time for questions.
“Ultimately this is about more than just Billy Joel. It’s about the ways that we view the past and the present, as well as ourselves, through the music we love,” says Bañagale.
Conference attendance is limited to 450 attendees and registration opens to the general public on Sept. 1.
The event is co-sponsored by the American Musicological Society, CC’s Cultural Attractions Fund, NEH Professorship, Music Department and Film and Media Studies.