Piano Man is filled with meaning for the show?

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Okay,I'm probably overanalyzing, but I cannot stop thinking about the use of "Piano Man" in "All in the Family" ( I can't get the darn song out of my head, either). First, the way that Mark was confusing the words seemed very significant to me. For instance, instead of "I believe this is killing me" (reference to a bartending job)he sings, "This place is killing me", as if to say that what will happen at the hospital later will really get to everyone in an emotional way. Then, in the same line, whe he says that the smile leaves his face, the beepers are going off and the singing trails off and of course, the smiles die.

One of the characters in the song is named John, just like Carter, and John in the song seems to be everyone's friend and gives the singer his drinks "for free". Carter is the same kind of likeable guy, "quick with a joke", and on the Christmas episode he was buying more than drinks, he was using his own money to buy replacement gifts for the staff whose presents he gave to kids in exchange for guns.

There is also a Paul in the song, as there was on the show. In the song, Paul "never had time for a wife". Do you get the feeling that Paul Sobricki and his wife didn't have much free time to connect with each other? He wasn't sure where she was, he liked to be alone alot, and she was seemingly unaware of the big breakdown that was brewing within him.

In the song, too, "the waitresses are practicing politics", and this reminded me of Lucy, trying to get the heart for Valerie, trying to get Romano to perform the surgery, usually (except in Paul's case) going to extra mile to get what she wanted for her patients.

Finally, "as the businessmen slowly get stoned, they're sharing a drink they call loneliness, but it's better than drinking alone" was so much like the scene in Doc Magoo's. Everyone slumped around the tables looked drunk or stoned with emotion and exhaustion and disbelief. But they were sharing it with one another, which was better than trying to deal with it alone.

Anyway, sorry this is so long but it's been bugging me and I was wondering, am I crazy? Or does this fit? I know they only plated a few seconds of the song, but the whole thing started playing in my head afterwards and all these things came to me then. The themes of the song and the episode are sort of parallel--The singer knows the people in the bar well, they are like a family, the bar is a microcosm of the larger world, and the co-workers at the hospital are a family,too. Thanks for reading!

-- Annie (GoldenLaur@aol.com), February 25, 2000


WOW!! You sure put some heavy thought into that. I don't know if the writer's did it intentionally but everything you pointed out does fit. Who knows?! Thanks for sharing you insights.

-- Bev (bev.burris@eer-h.com), February 25, 2000.

I have to admit, while I didn't put ALL the pieces together as far as you did (Paul's wife, Carter, etc), I did notice the opening song when Mark and Elizabeth were singing. I picked up on the "this place is killing me.." and "as the smile went away from his face" as the beepers were going off. I have watched the episode twice now, and when I saw that scene the second time, I paid particular attention to see if it was my imagination, but I don't think so.

I'm so glad someone else saw it!

-- Kelly (kwidener@excite.com), February 25, 2000.

I definatly (sp) agree with you Annie. I'm always looking for connections like that too (though I have to admit that I missed it that time because I was bawling my eyes out). I do think that writers put that kind of thing in there to keep us on our toes.

-- Shauna (shauna_h16@yahoo.com), February 25, 2000.

I think you guys have WAY too much time on your hands!! But, it is intersting nonetheless.

-- Steph (smrock@worldnet.net), February 25, 2000.

Piano Man is my favorite song (honestly) and I was so excited to see it in this. I know all the words and I thought it seemed very appropriate too. I didn't go that into it, but I loved how as Mark sang "as a smile ran away from his face"...and he really did stop smiling.

I'm glad Billy Joel made his way into ER!

-- Elaine (mrsclooney78@hotmail.com), February 25, 2000.

Annie, this is such a good point! Are you an English major? I also noticed that Mark was singing a line that went something like "And he's quick with a joke and (something something) and there's someplace else he'd rather be." If the quick with a joke part was referring to the John in the song, wouldn't that be symbolic of Carter in the sense that he WOULD rather be somewhere else, other than in the hospital!

There seemed to be a lot of symbolism in these last two episodes. I was thinking of the blue heart shaped Valentine's Day cake and how it was probably a symbol of death. You know - a blue heart means no circulation, no life, the old lady died during that episode ("Be Still My Heart"), Lucy died of a blood clot in her heart. Too bad they don't write episodes like this all the time!

-- Mel (msintn@hotmail.com), February 26, 2000.

One thing... Anthony Edwards is actually a better singer than Mark Greene. I remember a scene is Top Gun where he was playing the piano and singing Great Balls of Fire... He was actually pretty good (ok, we wont see him in a musical).

-- judie (jasbel95@aol.com), February 26, 2000.

Maybe Robert can go with them next time (remember he was in FAME?)!

-- Diana (dilynne@juno.com), March 05, 2000.

Speaking of Robert, Paul could also mean Paul McCrane meaning Robert has never really showed any emotions for other people therefore meaning never had time for a wife.

-- Cai (mohawk@xmission.com), March 05, 2000.

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