I love Billy Joel. Always have, always will. From my adolescent years – when this erstwhile Piano Man helped me express my teen angst – to my adulthood, this Bronx balladeer has always maintained a precarious balance between melodic genius, blue collar lyrics, and and a healthy distrust of authority.
Over his 40-year career – including iconic albums like 1977’s The Stranger, 1980’s Glass Houses, 1982’s The Nylon Curtain, and 1983’s An Innocent Man – Billy Joel has become the third best-selling solo artist in the US, and the sixth best overall. That’s impressive no matter how you slice it.
Though he hasn’t released a new rock album since 1993’s River of Dreams, he has toured extensively – often with fellow keyboard tickler Elton John – and has released numerous live albums in that time.
Recently, Billy Joel sat down (at the piano) with Alec Baldwin for an hourlong interview on WNYC’s Here’s the Thing. Billy’s musical career and personal life are covered chronologically in this fascinating conversation, where we learn (and even better hear) about how some of Joel’s hits were originally composed, and then reworked by producer Phil Ramone in the studio.
For instance, Only the Good Die Young was originally written as a reggae number – this section is about 44:00 minutes in, and must be heard to be believed. In fact, this entire interview is so entertaining and often hilarious, I highly recommend finding an hour to sit and listen to it. Especially when Billy and Alec start doing impressions: their dueling Brandos, and dueling Tony Bennetts are hysterical.
If you are a Billy Joel fan (or believe that Alec Baldwin is the funniest thing that has been on SNL in years) this interview is for you. Musically fascinating, historically relevant, and laugh out loud funny. What more do you want. Listen to the interview HERE.