The Library of Congress is honoring Billy Joel with its Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
Librarian James Billington said Tuesday the singer-songwriter, whose hits include “Piano Man” and “Uptown Girl,” will receive the prize in Washington in November.
“Billy Joel is a storyteller of the highest order,” Billington said. “There is an intimacy to his songwriting that bridges the gap between the listener and the worlds he shares through music. When you listen to a Billy Joel song, you know about the people and the place and what happened there. And while there may be pain, despair and loss, there is ultimately a resilience to it that makes you want to go to these places again and again.
The Gershwin Prize honors a living artist’s lifetime achievement in music. Previous recipients include Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney, the songwriting duo of Burt Bacharach and the late Hal David, and Carole King.
Joel is among the world’s most popular recording artists. He has said his piano-driven compositions spring from personal experiences, and that he strives to write songs that capture and transcend those moments.
With a career spanning 50 years in the entertainment industry, Joel is the sixth top-selling artist of all time.