2007   JUNE 8   #159

Billy Joel ??? Demo Tape - Cages

1 Pennsylvania (4:05)
2 My Old Man (2:54)
3 More Like Terry (2:06)
4 Partners (2:17)
5 You Got To Lose To Love (2:29)
6 Cages (3:32)

This item is a true mystery. I found it at an estate sale a few years back. It was the only tape of its sort in the house, mixed in with a large record collection. When I got it home and listened to it, I was immediately struck by the fact that, to me, it sounded like exactly what was written on the box- Billy Joel. There were no song titles listed, but they were easy enough to guess, so I started doing some searches on the internet, and came up with nothing.

Not being a Billy Joel fan myself, I put the tape on ebay, providing excerpts from the songs. I pretty much just said that it sounded like Billy Joel to me, and that even though I had no additional information about it, I had no particular reason to believe it *wasn't* Billy Joel, because I couldn't imagine what else it could be.

I found what seemed to be the main bulletin board site for Joel fans on the web, and posted a link to my ebay ad. Immediately I got lots of reactions and opinions from both sides of the fence. Some were convinced it was him, but most were not. It was fascinating to see them nit-pick the songwriting, lyrics, arrangements and vocal stylings in their attempts to definitively prove that it was NOT Billy Joel. Some claimed to know as a matter of fact that it was not him, yet declined to offer their evidence out of disdain for me and my motivations. I didn't expect such a strong reaction, nor did I expect such a strong condemnation by some, who were sure that I was intentionally pulling a scam of some sort.

I stuck to my guns, though, since my ebay ad had a disclaimer saying that I had no proof that this was actually Billy Joel. Then an apparent voice of authority stepped into the debate and emailed me directly, saying that he was Billy Joel's biographer, and that he could get a confirmation or denial directly from Billy himself. After checking the web to see if the guy seemed legit, I sent him a CD, and shortly I heard back from him that he had played the CD for Billy, and that the official word was that it was not him. While I had no definitive proof that Billy actually heard the tape, or even if he did and might have simply denied it out of embarrassment, I'll never know. But I pulled the auction and promised not to advertise the tape as a legit Billy Joel demo.

I still have the tape, and am still very perplexed by it. The best hypothesis I have is that it was someone trying to sell songs to Billy, and these were demos featuring someone trying to sound like Billy for that reason. I never managed to get back in touch with the folks who ran the estate sale, but given the random assortment of things at that house, I doubt that they'd have had any clue what it was either.

So here are the songs in their entirety. Billy Joel from a parallel universe!

- Contributed by: Pea Hix

Image: Reel Tape

Media: 7" reel tape
Title: Cages
Credits: Billy Joel...???
Date: early 1970s?