Billy Joel solidified his cool-guy status during a Q & A at Vanderbilt University when he kindly consented to a student’s random request to perform “New York State of Mind” with the singer. The student, Michael Pollack, knew his plan prior to arriving, and could barely garner the guts to ask. Clearly shaken, he quickly composed himself and killed it on stage. Watch below.
This story was just interesting enough to post. According to the New York Post, there’s a hot demand amongst the Hamptons elite for guinea hens. Christie Brinkley and Billy Joel started the craze in 1990 when they conducted an experiment on their property, which “showed the correlation between guinea fowl and reduced deer tick populations.” The craziest part of this story is the idea that Christie Brinkley and Billy Joel worked well enough together to conduct an experiment. The second craziest part is the vision of a bunch of rich, crazy celebrities with hens running all over their property.
Colton Dixon is the only contestant on American Idol worth talking about. He gave Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” a unique twist, and he managed to circumvent the Karaoke-driven performances of the other contestants. Watch below.
Steven Soderbergh announced that he’ll likely quit the film industry, saying, “it’s time.” “When you reach the point where you’re like if I have to get into a van to do another scout I’m just going to shoot myself, it’s time to let somebody else who’s still excited about getting in the van, get in the van.” Can somebody please explain to me when successful people got so damn lazy? First Billy Joel refuses to write new music, and then Phil Collins announces his retirement. Doesn’t Steven Soderbergh have more work to do? How many successful films did Steven Spielberg churn out before he got lazy? Oh yeah — he’s still working. I guess Spielberg likes his van.
If you read my Billy Joel post, you might predict my reaction to Phil Collins’ recent announcement that he’s quit the music business. In a statement, Collins said, “I’m sorry that it was all so successful. I honestly didn’t mean it to happen like that. It’s hardly surprising that people grew to hate me.” He also said that he “doesn’t think anyone is going to miss [him].” Can someone please explain to me when musicians become such emotional cowards? I’d use the “P” word, but my father told me to stop cursing on my blog, and despite my suspicion that he actually doesn’t read The Dishmaster, I’ll err on the side of caution. Anyways, there’s something about massive success that breeds complacence, and I wonder if Phil Collins will live happily ever after with Billy Joel, who hasn’t written a new song in over a decade. For goodness sakes, Phil Collins sold over 150 million records, and the guy just quits? I’m aware that the today’s music industry is horrific, but that’s all the more reason to release new material. So Phil if you’re reading this — grow a pair — and write some music.
When I read that Billy Joel will waste an inordinate amount of time writing an autobiography instead of writing new music, I became infuriated. I’m a huge Billy Joel fan, and it’s been over a decade since he’s written new music. In his recent Howard Stern interview, he said that he likes to write music without lyrics because adding lyrics would be like “painting a mustache on an already finished work of art.” Personally, I think that’s complete bull shit. And I’m not a alone. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Elton John said, “at the end of the day, [Billy’s] coasting. I always say, ‘Billy, can’t you write another song?’ It’s either fear or laziness. It upsets me. Billy’s a conundrum.” Judging from the Stern interview, Billy has some astounding fear of failure, and since he’s able to live off the money he’s already made, there isn’t any reason to overcome it. He’s no longer hungry (both literally and figuratively), and so his art suffers. And since I’m such a huge Joel fan — I suffer.
Howard Stern was at his best today — and so was Billy Joel. Stern asked Joel to come in for an interview about a month ago, and Joel agreed. The dynamic was particularly interesting, considering Stern and Joel are good friends off the air, and yet Stern was still mesmerized when Joel performed his songs in the studio, saying, “Billy, I’m not a woman but I want to blow you after listening to that.” At one point Stern even compared Joel to Beethoven, and Joel quickly brushed it off, saying, “don’t lay it on too thick.” Joel randomly played songs on the spot while discussing them. He explained his song-writing process, in a song-by-song format. My favorite question of the interview was when Stern asked Joel if he likes the piano, and Joel said he either loves it or detests it. He said that when he’s writing a song, and it’s going well, he loves the piano. But when the song isn’t turning into what he imagined, the piano is a gigantic beast that he has to conquer. I love Billy Joel and I love Howard Stern — does it get better? Listen to New York State of Mind below.
Update: Some of the songs discussed in the interview include: Uptown Girl; Allentown; Dear Mr. Fantasy (Steve Winwood); Vienna Waits For You; Miami 2017; Just the Way You Are; The Downeaster Alexa; Big Shot; and Goodnight Saigon.
There’s been a lot of hoopla in the press about Billy Joel’s song, Uptown Girl, because the author of a new book revealed that the song was originally written for Elle Macpherson and not Christie Brinkley. Here’s what I know about this. In the interview below, Joel admitted that it was originally about Macpherson, so this isn’t really an insane revelation. But there’s a catch. Because I’ve spent my entire life watching celebrity interviews, I distinctly remember a Christie Brinkley interview during her marriage to Joel, where Brinkley said that Joel wrote Uptown Girl for her. That information means one of two things. Either Joel lied to Brinkley about who he wrote the song for, or Joel lied in the interview below, which was taped four years after Christie Brinkley left him (perhaps he was still pissed and wanted to stick it to her?). I’m not sure. But I tend to dismiss most of what Billy Joel says in interviews, because he comes off as disinterested and guarded. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has no idea who he wrote the song for and answers the question differently every time.
Billy Joel appeared on Howard Stern’s show today to promote his new documentary, The Last Play at Shea. The documentary chronicles his 2008 performance at Shea Stadium, just before it closed down. Stern went easy on Joel and stuck mostly to music questions. That’s likely because Stern and Joel are good friends, and Stern therefore felt uncomfortable asking about the breakdown of his marriages. I know this because I avidly listen to Stern, who is pretty consistent in badgering his guests about their personal lives (which is usually my favorite part of his interviews). Though I was disappointed that those questions weren’t asked, I did enjoy the part where Stern asked Joel for his favorite song. Joel picked quite a few, and I’ve posted one below — it’s Summer Highland Falls. Summer, Highland Falls by bradenbost