While at lunch recently a familiar Billy Joel song came on the restaurant stereo. A co-worker mentioned that he had always loved the song and the artist. I admitted that I had once really enjoyed hearing Billy Joel, and even today some of his recordings still appeal to me.
My co-worker said that he liked just about everything that Joel recorded, including An Innocent Man. Then he asked me the titles of some of the other hits of the “Piano Man.” I named several songs, and my co-worker added “Laugh with the Sinners, Cry with the Saints” to the list.
I informed him that the title was actually “Only the Good Die Young,” and then we started to list all the songs we knew that actually did have the word saint in their titles. Here is that list.
10. “St. Elmo’s Fire” by Michael Franks: The song fits in snugly with the rest of mellow piano pieces on The Art of Tea. The music is refreshingly laid back and the lyrics are light but intelligent.
9. “Saints and Sailors” by Dashboard Confessional: One of the pop gems on the indie band’s album The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most, the song is most memorable for rhyming “apartment” and “argument.” I also like the conflicting clichés in the chorus, “You smile like a saint, But you cuss like a sailor.”
8. St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” by Cocktail Slippers: This indie female group does pop reminiscent of The Bangles, and this song about being loveless on February 14 is their biggest hit to date.
7. “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine Last Night” by Bob Dylan: This is one of the county-folk tunes from John Wesley Harding, Dylan’s first release after his serious motorcycle crash. The lyrics conclude with one of the few times Dylan admits to crying.
6.”Modern Saints” by The Von Bondies: The song is typical of the indie band’s debut album, filled with vibrant electric guitars and energetic vocals.
5.”St. Modesto” by Chris Walla: It sounds like indie band Death Cab for Cutie, since Walla is the band’s lead singer. Sounding like DCC is not at all bad thing, though.
4. “Saint Simon” by The Shins: James Mercer’s lyrics here read like a junior high school vocabulary book, with words such as apathy, vexed, solemn, and evidently. Somehow, though, he delivers them well enough to make an impressive indie pop song.
3. “A Saint’s Complaint” by John Gorka: The chorus in this clever folk song from The Company You Keep album says “Good things come to those who ain’t,” which is the saint’s complaint.
2. “Lost in St. Leon” by The Minor Leagues: This last track provides a memorable coda to The Pestilence Is Coming, possibly the best album released in the first decade of the 21st century. Ben Walpole delivers lyrics about lost love in a tender tenor backed by lush instrumentation.
1. “St. Caffeine” by John Gorka: The folk singer testifies with a touvh of bluegrass that he has seen the light; that is the light of St. Caffeine, the drug that has kept him going since his teenage years. The delightful chorus is, “Of other drugs I am clean, But I pray to you St. Caffeine.”