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Flashback Video: 'Keeping the Faith' by Billy Joel

Ever since the dawn of MTV and Friday Night Videos, the music video has significantly impacted musical tastes and pop culture. It might not be as extreme as when the Buggles declared that "Video Killed the Radio Star", but there is no arguing that the music video certainly could make or break a song's popularity. So this regular Flashback Video feature will serve to remember some of the music videos from the great '80s decade that made an impact on me in one way or another. This issue we will cover "Keeping the Faith" by Billy Joel. I am a big fan of Billy Joel's music and among the dozens of hits there are a few that I feel are a little underrated. One that sometimes gets overlooked amid the hits on 1983's An Innocent Man is "Keeping the Faith". It was the final track and the sixth to be released as a single in September 1984. All of the songs on this album paid tribute to popular American musical styles (most notably doo-wop and soul) from the late '50s and early '60s. "Keeping the Faith" is reportedly an homage musically to Betty Wright's "Clean Up Woman" (actually from 1971) and lyrically to Pre-British Invasion Rock n Roll. The song still had its fair share of commercial success reaching #18 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March of 1985 and #3 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts. The music video for "Keeping the Faith" was directed by Howard Deutch. He had been working in music videos at the time, but Deutch became known more for feature films particularly several written by John Hughes in the '80s. His directorial debut was 1986's Pretty in Pink. He also went on to direct 1987's Some Kind of Wonderful and The Great Outdoors from 1988. He has done a lot more work in both television and film since then, but also of note is that he has been married to Lea Thompson since 1989. Deutch put together a video that revolves around a court trial likely playing off of his An Innocent Man album title. Before he starts singing, Joel gives a not-so-subtle warning to the judge, "You know your honor, they say justice is blind, I sure hope it ain't deaf." There are a few fun cameos in the music video. The late Richard Pryor makes a cameo appearance at the beginning of the video getting his shoes shined and reading a newspaper with the headline "Billy Joel: Guilty or Innocent?". Billy Joel's soon-to-be wife (at the time) Christie Brinkley appears in the video as the "red haired girl in a Chevrolet". Brinkley had also previously been featured in Joel's "Uptown Girl" video and the couple was married from 1985-1994. At the very end of the video, Joe Piscopo is shown getting his shoes shined and reading a newspaper now with the headline "Billy Joel: An Innocent Man!". (Not sure why they didn't just have Richard Pryor return for this part at the end, but Joe was a fun surprise as well.) Piscopo gives the shoeshine kid a hundred dollar bill as a tip and tells him, "Keep the faith, kid." You can see all of that and more as you watch the music video for "Keeping the Faith" by Billy Joel...

Fun, infectious song and a fun, entertaining video. If you look closely at the record that Billy is spinning on his finger early in the court scene, it is "Clean Up Woman" by Betty Wright (which I had mentioned earlier was part of the inspiration for this song). Billy Joel is such a tremendous songwriter in my opinion and this song features so many clever lyrics. There is one lyric in "Keeping the Faith", however, that Billy sings that I am not sure I quite agree with: "Because the good ol' days weren't always good, and tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems." I suppose it probably is true but, even though the good ol' days of the '80s had their share of not-so-great aspects, I never want to forget all the awesome parts. And there were a lot of awesome parts. So that is part of my mission... keep the memory of '80s pop culture alive. It's not always easy, but I just remind myself... Keep the faith, kid. Hope you enjoyed another trip back to the '80s thanks to Flashback Video!

1 Comment

How did you discover that the 45 record Billy spins on his finger is Betty Wright’s “Clean Up Woman”. Did you read that here:

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