Billy Joel Lyrics that Prove Millennials Have it Worse than Baby Boomers

It has become exceedingly popular to talk about how terrible Millennials are. From general complaints about being lazy Peter Pans to specific accusations that they killed vacations, the napkin industry, and McDonald’s McWrap, it turns out that they are the generation to point the the greasy, mustard covered finger (due to a lack of napkins) at. But the truth is that we millennials are facing struggles that the previous generation just does not understand. Don’t believe me? Just look to the works of a prominent voice of the Baby Boomer generation, William Martin “Billy” Joel.

  1. “Paul is a real estate novelist, who never had time for a wife…”

Wait, Paul has time for a career and a hobby? That’s crazy, right? Forget having a wife, having time to both work a job that pays rent AND do something you’re passionate about, or at least pretend to be passionate about, in Paul’s case, would be pretty amazing. It’s a shame that many hardworking, well educated, and eager echo boomers will never have that opportunity to even pretend to be writing a novel. How are we even supposed to impress other drunk people at closing time without 2,000 words collecting virtual dust on an Microsoft Word document? I’ll admit I was lucky enough to live that dream for a few years: working a job at place with an Human Resources department while still having time to be creative. That is until layoffs reared their ugly head. Layoffs are, of course, many baby boomers favorite past-time. If there was a professional wrestling character whose gimmick was being born in the 50’s, their catchphrase would be “ and don’t steal any copy paper on the way out!” He would be a bad guy. Not everyone was let go, though, and I’ll give you a hint who got to keep their positions: it wasn’t the younger people who were actually excited to have meaningful work. Perhaps I should also mention to the millennials reading this, real estate used to be a viable career, not just the basis for all of HGTV’s lineup.

2. “Sergeant O’Leary is walking the beat, at night he becomes a bartender. He works at Mr. Cacciatore’s down on Sullivan Street, across from the medical center. He’s trading in his Chevy for a Cadillac-ac-ac-ac.”

It tugs at your heart strings, doesn’t it? Sarge is working two jobs so he can upgrade to a nicer automobile. Well officer, I see your two jobs for a luxury car and raise you a third job with a student loan repayment plan. Seriously, I wish I could afford a late model Malibu at this point. But I guess that’s an advantage you have when you lived in a time when there were still decent jobs you could get without knowing five different programming languages and having the 3 years of experience required for entry level positions. But I get it, law enforcement is a tough job that doesn’t get the money it really deserves. And at the end of the day, the good Sarge is simply a metaphor for choosing materialistic ambition at the expense of what is really important: time, health, and an appearance in another verse so that you can further develop as a literary character. But at least he gets the choice. And even if O’Leary does break his back working, at least he knows where the medical center is, and I’m sure they’ll take his health insurance that I hear employers used to provide.

3. “Well we’re waiting here in Allentown, for the Pennsylvania we never found, for the promises our teachers gave, if we worked hard, if we behaved. So the graduations hang on the wall, but they never really helped us at all. No they never taught us what was real. Iron and coal, and chromium steel. And we’re waiting here in Allentown.”

Wait a second, something seems familiar here. A feeling of betrayal when the economy you had been told to prepare for your entire life is snatched away? Check. Impatience and restlessness from lack of work? Check. The pressure to live up to a previous generation’s expectations? Check. A bitterness towards an education system that never really prepared us for the workforce? Check. A general lack of purpose? Check.

Perhaps the two generations aren’t that different after all. Perhaps there is a connection. Perhaps there are common threads that transcend time, and constants in the human condition that we can all relate to. Perhaps, if we can summon the empathy to try to understand them, our similar hardships can unite us, and we can put aside this bickering to work together to make progress in this world we share and the world that future generations will inherit. Wait, what’s that you say? Baby Boomers had it worse and to even compare the situations is absurd? Oh, ok, my bad.

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