13 Songs Dedicated to the Biscayne Bay Piano
The news business had a field day yesterday with this grand piano that somehow ended up on a sandbar in Biscayne Bay near North Miami. While this would be a great place for Yanni to compose, with the inspiration of nature literally lapping at his toes, the origin of this instrument's placement remains a mystery so far. Noted that Miami New Times' Amanda McCorquodale has already made diligent work of upping the speculation game: "The piano is a leftover prop from a Kanye West video filming. (I'm on a boat! With a piano!)." UPDATED: Now we know it wasn't some indie filmmakers looking for cred, but apparently a 16-year-old named Nicholas Harrington trying (failing?) to woo college admissions officers.
With the piano being one of the most ubiquitous, yet unwieldy, instruments in the U.S., there are plenty of popular artists who could be responsible for this bit of public exhibition -- David Byrne and Lang Lang have already crossed our minds. But we'll take this further to identify the songs that should be played on this ever-rotting instrument. (In pretty much all cases, these are artists that would definitely be into a piano in the ocean concept for a music video.)
The rules: Must reference water, and the recording must prominently feature a piano. And yes, a bunch of Counting Crows songs got left out.
Silver Jews - "Trains Across the Sea"
David Berman even titled one of his albums American Water! This song is from an earlier recording, Starlite Walker, and most would agree that this piano stunt does bear the mark of someone who has "drunk 50,000 beers."
Nina Simone - "Take Me to the Water"
Consider this moving track from Simone's High Priestess of Soul, and then put out of your head that this was an act of vandalism. This piano got baptized in the healing spray of Biscayne.
Marvin Gaye - "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)"
If the singer were alive today, he wouldn't be super pleased to hear that someone had befouled the bay with their unwanted piano. Rest assured, Marvin: "Unless the piano proves to be a danger to wildlife or boaters,
officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and
the North Miami Police Department's marine patrol say they will not
haul it away."
Regina Spektor - "Aquarius"
Now perhaps this is Spektor's attempt to bring more attention to this old, unreleased gem. We are currently well into the correct astrological sign for this bit of wild speculation.
Elton John - "Madman Across the Water"
Ok, so rock's piano innovators Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis didn't make this list, but that's all right because we've got Elton. And though "Crocodile Rock" might play well in the Everglades, over on this side of the peninsula, we're going with something more sinister that the Miami Herald supports. Will the mad piano bomber unmask?
Ben Folds Five - "Evaporated"
It could very well be the dethroned indie piano champ Ben Folds. Somehow he's ended up as a judge on NBC's The Sing-Off and had to make a silly album with author Nick Hornby. Is this the latest act of desparation? Wait for the hidden track at the end to get the nails in the coffin here.
Add CocoRosie to the list of artists who are strange enough to stick a piano in a large sea body. This is one of the most beautiful songs the Casady sisters have ever recorded, though, and it would certainly do well with the addition of well-timed ocean effects.
Billy Joel - "Falling of the Rain"
You didn't think we'd use "River of Dreams," did you?
Bruce Springsteen - "Thunder Road"
You didn't think we'd not use "Thunder Road," did you?
DJ Shadow - "Building Steam With a Grain of Salt"
It's harder than you might think to find a hip-hop song that uses piano and references water. Apologies to Kanye West's "Runaway," Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Shimmy Shimmy Ya," and GZA's Liquid Swords album. Direct other notable omissions to the comments section.
Fiona Apple - "Sullen Girl"
No, this song is not about anything as frivolous as a wandering piano.
Guns N' Roses - "November Rain"
Yes, this video is too remarkable to hide. Around the 6:40 mark all hell breaks loose. Is there a band that uses piano to greater epic effect than GNR?
Faith No More - "Epic"
Actually yes. Although it's an upright piano, and it's only in the stirring coda of the song, this is the ultimate Biscayne Bay piano song by a long shot. Thanks to weird green screen effects, Faith No More performs on a sandbar-ish stage in a thunderstorm, and we're reminded why Mike Patton is fucking awesome. When the whole instrument explodes into a ball of flames, it could be the most beautiful moment ever captured on film.
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