What’s black and white and has a long-standing residency at New York’s Madison Square Garden? It’s The Piano Man himself, Billy Joel. (The piano is the black and white in this scenario. Get it? Get it?)
Billy Joel has not released an album with new material since 1993, and yet, there’s that that residency. And yet, he’s selling out arenas and ballfields all over the world. And yet, he doesn’t get a whole lot of respect from concert reviewers and music critics.
Fact: Billy Joel has written at least 33 songs you know the words to. That’s 33 hits. He’s the sixth-best-selling musician of all time. He is the perfect pop songwriting machine. Sure, he’s a little theatrical sometimes. Sure, some of his lyrics are questionable (ed note: next time listen, really listen, to the lyrics of some of those love songs. Ick.).
But, really, where Billy Joel excels is not in love, it’s in life. It’s not “Always a Woman” that is his greatest songwriting, but instead, it’s slices of average life—it’s the tale of love gone sour in “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant” or a young man leaving town in “Moving Out.” in the devil-may-care attitude of “My Life,” and of course in the epic bar staple of “Piano Man,” a song full of relatable characters. It’s in these songs that Billy Joel is able to channel the everyman—the same folks who keep filling up all those venues.
I guess you could say it’s “Still Rock and Roll” to them.
Billy Joel plays the Vivint Smart Home Arena on Wednesday, November 28 at 8 p.m., but I wish it was at 9:00 on a Saturday. Tickets available here.