Billy Joel Interview

Once in a while you come across something so good and so fascinating that it grabs hold of you and won’t let go.  That’s what happened when I tuned in to listen to Alec Baldwin interview Billy Joel, and I’m not a big fan of either.

When I was in high school I convinced my best friend to take my girlfriend to the Billy Joel concert at the Salt Palace because I had no desire to listen to three hours of his music. Yet, I knew all the words to his music. If you were scanning the radio during the late 70’s and 80’s his music was impossible to miss.

OK, he had one song I liked a lot: She’s Always a Woman. “She can kill with a smile, she can wound with her eyes…”

So few artists today are made for the long haul. Baldwin asks Joel when he realized he’d become a rock star. Listen to his answer because it’s as the essence of what separates the true musicians from the fleeting stars of today.

Some of Joel’s favorite tunes were not commercially successful, but it didn’t matter. He made Uptown Girl to poke fun at his life, and knew it wasn’t his best work, yet it was in the MTV loop and sold millions.

Shows like the Voice and American Idol have convinced  kids that playing to a TV audience is all it takes. Show up, sing a few songs produced by the hit-makers and sit back while the cash rolls in. And sometimes the cash does roll in and a few albums are sold, but it doesn’t last but the act isn’t built to last. Next season’s Idol winner will be ready in a few months so who cares?

But seriously, your kids and mine aren’t going to be listening to any of those Idol winners, because so few have lasting talent. They didn’t pay their dues. And they’d rather be famous and date professional athletes than make remarkable music.

But musicians like Joel were in it for the music. The music is what resonates. Dance moves come and go, but the music endures.

I was fascinated at how humble Joel was in admitting to the mistakes he made while married and how he still feels he’s not that talented of a piano player.

I know what good piano playing is and I’m not good. My left hand is lame. I am a two-fingered left-hand piano player…I never practiced enough to use all my fingers on my left hand, so I just play octaves, bass notes. My right hand tries to compensate for my left hand being so gimpy, so I overplay on my right hand. My technique is horrible. I can’t read music.

Listen to a first few minutes and see if you get hooked like I did.;containerClass=wnyc