Ever since the ’70s, Billy Joel has been making a massive mark on the music industry. Even since the end of his new-music releasing days, Joel has been selling out stadiums and monthly Madison Square Garden shows with performances of his array of timeless hits.
Check out our five key takeaways from the interview below.
1. Billy Joel Tours Aren’t Ending Anytime Soon, But He’s Prepared For When They Do
Joel often thinks that maybe it’s time for him to get off the stage, but something keeps on pulling him back. “I have the greatest job in the world,” he says. Although he sees no reason for stopping touring anytime soon, he believes it will be easy to walk away and already has an interesting idea for a farewell tour. When he can no longer sing as well as he believes he should, Joel plans to end his touring days with an onstage TV-watching, couch-lounging performance: “I’ll have created a bond between me and the audience where I know they will never pay another nickel to see me again.”
2. No One Sets a Higher Bar For Billy Joel Than Billy Joel
With his bar being that Beethoven wrote nine symphonies, Joel stopped writing songs and decided to stick solely to performing when he realized he couldn’t be as good as he wanted, and that his songs were not getting the exposure they deserved. Joel also felt that albums just weren’t meaning what they used to mean. “By the time I got to my 12th album, I didn’t think the quality trajectory was going to continue to go up,” he states. Though The River of Dreams was wildly successful, Joel felt otherwise, and explains that he felt it should have gotten more exposure. “I said, ‘What’s the point of putting myself through writing and recording if it doesn’t mean what it’s supposed to mean out there in the world?'”
3. None of the Albums That Came After The River of Dreams Were His Idea
Joel doesn’t have ownership of his own songs, and he’d like everyone to know that it’s the record company who packages them every which way. “People wonder why there’ve been so many Billy Joel live albums and compilations. They’re not my idea,” Joel says, explaining that the record company can do whatever they please with his material. The endless live albums and compilations, other than Songs In The Attic, and his first and second greatest-hits albums — “they don’t mean anything.”
4. Lyrics Don’t Always Matter
While constantly compared to Bruce Springsteen in his early days, Joel feels they differ not only in their instrumentation, but in their lyricism. Crediting Springsteen as a “wordsmith,” Billy was never too hung up on his own song lyrics. Always writing the music first, Joel’s lyrics were more of a tool to decode the emotion or situation that inspired the music. “I can’t figure out half the lyrics to Stones songs and it doesn’t matter — I like the music,” Joel responds when asked why he isn’t so focused on the lyrics when it comes to his songs.
5. Billy Joel Is Not a Trump Supporter
Joel has been more outspoken regarding the state of America following the election of President Donald Trump. “We have a terrible president. We have a terrible administration. Politically, I’m not happy where our country is,” he states when asked how he thinks the country is doing right now. Joel will always stand up for what he believes in, and showed that when he wore a Star Of David at his MSG show following the Charlottesville riots. However, after receiving an invite to Trump’s wedding to Melania, Joel did attend what he thought would be “an interesting freak show.”