Billy Joel stopped by Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Thursday night (Oct. 19), and he came bearing some amazing news and a surprising cover of a rock classic. Host Kimmel noted that tonight’s (Oct. 20) show at New York’s Madison Square Garden will be Joel’s 91st of his career at the legendary venue.
“I don’t think Patrick Ewing played 91 times at Madison Square Garden,” Kimmel joked. “It’s an unbelievable record.” And then, Kimmel divulged that Joel is extending his MSG residency through the new year, with an unprecedented 48th gig on January 11. Long Island native Joel began his historic run at MSG in January 2014. Ever since, he has played one show at the iconic venue per month.
“We’re gonna go into 2018,” Joel confirmed. “I thought it would kind of taper off after four or five years, but they’re buying tickets faster now than they were at the beginning.”
Joel then said he doesn’t sell tickets to the first two rows at his concerts because “it got to a point — this is about 25 years ago — I got tired of looking down [and] the first row tickets were always scalper tickets,” Joel said. “So, there’s always somebody who paid way too much money to be a big shot and sit in the front row. You see some guy sitting front row with his bimbo, right?
“And he’s got the gold chains, and they’re just sitting there like, ‘Entertain me, Piano Man!’ I’m looking down, I go, ‘Screw this. The real fans are in the back.'”
So, now, Joel’s road crew goes and finds fans from the very back of the arena to bring to the front two rows.
Joel also revealed that his songs are based on real people (Davy, who’s still in the Navy, in “Piano Man,” for instance). “They were real names,” Joel said. “I caught a lot of flack for — what a cheesy rhyme! Davy in the Navy! The guy’s name was Davy, and he was in the Navy. … I stole it from everybody.”
Kimmel and Joel then then dissected some of Joel’s other famous lyrics and got to the root of their sources — including that Virginia in “Only the Good Die Young” was a real girl that Joel had a crush on way back when.
In case that’s that wasn’t enough Joel goodness, the singer also revealed that his favorite Bruce Springsteen song is “Meeting Across the River” before instructing Kimmel’s house band on how to play the song so he could do his best Springsteen impression. “It’s a very atmospheric Springsteen song,” Joel said.
“Would you ever consider doing an intimate show like that? Like the Broadway show [that Springsteen is doing]?” Kimmel asked. “Yes,” Joel answered immediately. “We talked about it with Bruce last night. I said, ‘Why don’t we switch it up once in a while? You come do the Garden, and I’ll do your gig for a couple days.'”
Watch the Springsteen clip and Joel’s performance of “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)” below: