Billy Joel Admits He’s Not in An Album State of Mind

Billy Joel at Festival D'ete de Quebec on July 11, 2014.

It’s been more than 20 years since Billy Joel released an album of new songs. Don’t hold your breath for the next one. 

The Piano Man has told the New Yorker (of course) that he has no plan to hit the “treadmill,” that grind of a continuous album release cycle and its near-inescapable law of diminishing creative returns. 

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"Over the years, Elton [John] would say, ‘Why don’t you make more albums?’ And I’d say, ‘Why don’t you make less?’… Some people think it’s because I’m lazy or I’m just being contrary. But, no, I think it’s just -- I’ve had my say.”

He goes on to add, “If I put out an album now, it would probably sell pretty well, because of who I am, but that’s no reason to do it. I’d want it to be good. And I’ve seen artists on that treadmill, putting out albums year after year, and the albums get worse and worse, less and less interesting, and it’s, like, maybe you should stop.”

It’s a deep read with a pile of granular detail on Billy’s career, which has cruised into its 50th year. Though he’s not pumping out the pop hits, he’s still a hot ticket. When he’s not filling out Madison Square Garden for his game-changing 2014 residency, he’s played arenas and stadiums up and down the country.

Live is one thing. Recording albums of new works, however, is another.

In a cover story with Billboard earlier this year, Billy said a full-length album of original songs was no longer part of his thinking. When asked he if was writing, the legendary singer-songwriter told Ray Waddell, “I never stopped writing music, I just stopped writing songs. I've been writing music continually ever since the last album of original tunes, "River Of Dreams" in '93. I had the album of piano pieces in 2001 ("Fantasies & Delusions), and since then I've been writing instrumental music. Thematic music. Some of them could become songs, some could become movie scores, some could be symphonic pieces, some of them could be piano pieces, it's all over the place. It's just pure music, and I never stopped writing it. I've written a bunch of stuff that no one's ever heard, and I don't know if they ever will. I'm just doing it for my own edification.”