Billy Joel On Performing: 'This Is My Job. That's What I Do'
With two recent festival shows under his belt, Billy Joel fans are waiting to see what his next move will be. Billy, who hasn't toured since 2010, went on record as stating that his appearances earlier this month at Australia's Stone Music Festival and the New Orleans Jazz Fest would be the test to see whether he still had what it took to take his show out on the road. Billy, who's said he's interested in performing full album shows, was asked by Nola.com whether he missed the stage after such a long layoff, and admitted, "I don't know if I would say that I missed it. I just enjoyed it while I was doing it. I'm not someone who sits around and goes, 'Gee, I wish I was up on stage. I wish the audience was going 'Hooray.' When I got back on stage, I recognized, 'Oh, right, I know how to do this. This is my job. That's what I do.' So that came back."
Although he can't move around the stage like he used to following double hip replacement surgery, Billy said that he appreciates the way his voice has matured over the years, saying, "I actually like my voice better now. It's deepened. It's thickened. There probably is more of an edge to it, that world-weary thing going on. The trade-off is that you can't hit the same high notes that you hit in your 20's. I wrote a lot of these songs in my 20's and early-30s. I remember while I was recording some of these songs, thinking, 'I'll never hit that note again.' Especially on an album like An Innocent Man. So we've dropped some of the keys a half-tone, and some of them even a whole tone. It doesn't make that much of a difference, but it's easier for me to hit the notes."
Billy spoke about his six-song set at last year's 12-12-12 concert for Hurricane Sandy relief at New York's Madison Square Garden: "We didn't think that we were all that good. We did six measly songs. We've played Madison Square Garden maybe 50 times; we've played better there before. We came off stage and looked at each other: 'It was O.K.' And everybody else was making a big deal about it. What, did everybody else suck?"
As far as focusing only on classical compositions rather than writing rock songs, he explained the situation by joking: "It's almost like I broke up with me. The songwriter doesn't like the singer any more, and the singer can't stand the piano player, so the 'Billy Joel' thing broke up. And that's it, and it is what it is."
Billy Joel hasn't written a full album of rock songs since 1993's The River Of Dreams, but he told us that he hasn't turned his back on performing rock: "Look, I still love rock n' roll, I still love pop music. I haven't divorced myself from the material that I wrote before -- I mean, that's why I'm out here on the road playing this stuff -- and I still believe in it. But I don't feel compelled to write in song form anymore. That isn't to say I may not go back to it -- I have no idea."
Photo Courtesy of BillJoel.com