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Tag: Billy Joel (1-10 of 18)

Hear Billy Joel's cover of 'Maybe I'm Amazed' from an all-star Paul McCartney tribute album

The real measure of a songwriter’s skill isn’t how many albums they’ve sold, but how often other artists have performed their songs. While Paul McCartney’s had no trouble moving units over the course of his career, the fact that he’s one of the most widely covered composers in pop music history–with over 2,000 known versions of his Beatles tune “Yesterday” alone–says much more about how much he means to the form.

Nov. 18 will see possibly the biggest tribute yet to Sir Paul’s compositional talents with the release of The Art of McCartney, a massive collection of covers by some of the biggest musicians of the past 50 years, including Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, and seemingly about half the performers who’ve ever been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Billy Joel contributes two covers to the cause: “Live and Let Die” and “Maybe I’m Amazed.” We have a sneak peek at Joel’s take on the biggest hit from the ex-Beatle’s 1970 solo debut–along with some behind the scenes footage and more info on The Art of McCartney–after the jump.


Billy Joel reveals the real reason he'll never make another album

Nick Paumgarten at The New Yorker has written a 10,000-word profile on legendary musician Billy Joel—a sweeping, vivid look at Joel’s personal history, the shaping of his career, and the man he is today. This year, “the Piano Man” became a resident at Madison Square Garden, playing sold-out shows every month—but he hasn’t put out a new album since 1993. Among the revelations in the piece is Joel’s candid, bitterness-free explanation of why he will never release another album: Mainly,  he just doesn’t have anything new to say.

“Over the years, Elton [John] would say, ‘Why don’t you make more albums?’ And I’d say, ‘Why don’t you make less?’… Some people think it’s because I’m lazy or I’m just being contrary. But, no, I think it’s just—I’ve had my say.” Joel says when other artists continue to cash in on their name past their prime, the results aren’t pretty. “If I put out an album now, it would probably sell pretty well, because of who I am, but that’s no reason to do it. I’d want it to be good. And I’ve seen artists on that treadmill, putting out albums year after year, and the albums get worse and worse, less and less interesting, and it’s, like, maybe you should stop.” READ FULL STORY

Billy Joel taught me everything I know

Truly, I could draw you the best fishing routes off the coast of Long Island before I even set foot in New York (thank you, “The Downeaster ‘Alexa'”). I was introduced to the complexities of dating beyond your station without the help of Jane Austen (“Uptown Girl,” indeed). I still sprint to see Bizet’s Carmen because it reminds me of “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant.” And the first drink I ever ordered in a bar was a gin and tonic (though not a tonic and gin, as I’d first heard it in “Piano Man”).

In 1982, while my sister Amy was mooning over Barry Manilow’s “The Old Songs,” I was crushing my first 45, Billy Joel’s “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me.” My first favorite T-shirt was a blue-and-white ringer emblazoned with his name and a glittering keyboard. (That’s it in the picture above. I’m 6, my sister is 8.) My first CD was his two-disc Greatest Hits Volumes I and II. But until last week at Madison Square Garden, I’d never seen Billy Joel perform live—even though I’ve come to realize that he is the longest-running nonfamilial relationship of my life.

Billy and I first started riding high during 1983’s An Innocent Man. I was 7. “Tell Her About It,” “Keeping the Faith,” “The Longest Time”: All that glorious doo-wop with ’80s sax overlay had me wondering what I was doing in karate class when I could be taking piano lessons so that I could perform in a revolving bar someday. The album was the perfect introduction to Billy. Its lyrics didn’t require the level of introspection that songs on Piano Man, The Stranger, or Glass Houses did—I’d get into those soon enough. Though early exposure to “She’s Got a Way” did result in a misguided interpretation that caused me to sing tearfully into my pillow after saying goodbye to my favorite teacher on the last day of fifth grade. Like I said, some of his material was initially a bit out of my grasp.

Sure, I had fixations on other artists. There was my Willie Nelson phase (ages 6-9), an Aretha Franklin era (11-14), a stint with Steve Miller (15-17), and a nice run with Dr. John (17-22). But while I flirted, no one stuck around like Billy. His vivid character studies—”Big Man on Mulberry Street,” “Goodnight Saigon,” “Captain Jack”—were like Raymond Carver short stories told in new time signatures.

When I heard that Billy would be doing a monthly residency at Madison Square Garden, I knew I had to go. And despite my sister’s early-onset Manilow mania, I knew I had to bring her. As we took our seats, I learned she’d been harboring a secret: This was her fourth Billy Joel concert. Still, we sang, we swayed, we even teared up. And—like 99 percent of the 20,000 fans who fill the Garden for Billy every month—we didn’t sit down once while the Piano Man wailed wonderfully through classics like “Pressure” and “You May Be Right.” “Allentown,” “She’s Always a Woman,” and “Everybody Loves You Now,” too.

People often ask me what my favorite Billy song is, and my answer always changes. The day before seeing this show, I learned I’d lost my incandescent friend Aylie to an aneurysm at 38. “Only the Good Die Young” can seem like a trite sentiment—until it doesn’t. It was the final encore Billy performed at MSG the night I was there. So for now, that one’s my favorite, for Aylie. And because life is life and Billy is Billy, I’m looking forward to the next time my answer changes.



Joel is booked at Madison Square Garden through February 2015 or “as long as there is demand.” (So presumably, forever.)

in_this_issue(2)Pick up a copy of this week’s Entertainment Weekly, on stands Friday.

Billy Joel to ring in 2014 on 'New Year's Rockin' Eve'

ABC announced today that Bill Joel will perform “one of his classic hits” shortly after the clock strikes midnight on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2014.

Joel, who’s currently preparing for a series of monthly concerts at Madison Square Garden, will join the telecast live from Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. He joins a lineup that already includes big names like Blondie, Capital Cities, Miley Cyrus, Daughtry, Jason Derulo, Fall Out Boy, Florida Georgia Line, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Icona Pop, Enrique Iglesias, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Robin Thicke and The Fray. According to Seacrest, Pitbull is now in as well.

The night’s festivities begin at 8 p.m. ET, when Ryan Seacrest, Fergie, Jenny McCarthy will cohost a special called New Year’s Rockin’ Eve Presents The 30 Greatest Women In Music on ABC. The special will be followed at 10 p.m. ET by New Year’s Rockin’ Eve proper. Seacrest and McCarthy will be stationed in Times Square; Fergie hosts the festivities from Los Angeles. This will be Rockin’ Eve‘s 41st year and only its second without patriarch Dick Clark, who died in April 2012.

Billy Joel headed to Madison Square Garden -- possibly for good

Billy Joel is movin’ in.

The singer will become the first-ever music franchise at Madison Square Garden, with the six-time Grammy winner performing a once-a-month residency beginning in January, the arena announced today. The first four previously announced shows — January 27, February 3, March 21 and April 18 — are already sold out. The shows will continue as long as there is demand.

“Since his first show in 1978, Billy has performed 46 shows at Madison Square Garden, including an unprecedented 12 consecutive sold-out shows that have earned Billy a spot among the Garden greats with a  banner raised in his honor. Today, we take that relationship even further and are extremely honored to have Billy as The Garden’s first music franchise,” said James L. Dolan, executive chairman of The Madison Square Garden Company. “This new partnership will ensure that someone who has been such an important figure in our past, will also be a major part of our future. We welcome Billy home and look forward to many unforgettable nights of music at the Garden.”

“Performing at Madison Square Garden is a thrilling experience,” Joel said in a release. “I’ve played different venues all over the world, but there’s no place like coming home to The Garden. Since my first show in 1978, I’ve always looked forward to the energy of the crowd. I’m honored to be joining the Madison Square Garden family and look forward to taking the stage of the newly transformed Garden to create many more memorable nights.”

Dhani Harrison, Alexa Ray Joel cover dads' songs for Gap ads

Billy Joel’s Grammy-winning song “Just The Way You Are” was famously written for his first wife Elizabeth Weber—a woman he divorced five years later. Joel semi-retired the tune because of that, but it’s about to get a resurrection to sell some jeans.

Tonight will mark the premiere of a new series of TV spots from the Gap that feature the children of legendary musicians—Alexa Ray Joel and Dhani Harrison, son of Beatle George—re-interpreting their dads’ classic tracks. Joel (whose mother is Christie Brinkley) will be tackling “Just the Way You Are,” while Harrison will be performing “For You Blue,” a track from the Beatles’ Let It Be written by George Harrison.

For a brand like ours, built on the ‘generation gap,’ it seemed really rich,” Seth Farbman, Gap’s Chief Marketing Officer, told Ad Age. “We’ve been spending a lot of time really looking at what an iconic brand does and how it acts. … And, as we often do, we were looking backwards, in order to go forwards.”

The spots are scheduled to air during a season premieres (which begin in earnest tonight and will continue over the next few weeks—check out EW’s Fall TV Preview, on stands now, for more) as well as during NFL games.

Or you can just watch them both below, along with some behind-the-scenes video of the shoots.  READ FULL STORY

John Mayer, Billy Joel kick off first weekend of New Orleans Jazz Fest -- PHOTOS

New Orleans natives and Grammy winners Rebirth Brass Band covered TLC’s “Waterfalls.” John Mayer covered the Muddy Waters tune “I Got My Mojo Working.” Billy Joel trotted out the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to jam during the midsection of “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant.” And Ben Harper continued his roots exploration in a set with collaborator and blues harmonica legend Charlie Musselwhite. At its best, the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Fesitval combines traditional New Orleans musicians (playing to the crowd and acknowledging their part in popular music), and mainstream acts paying homage to a region of the country that so greatly influences them.

The first weekend of Jazz Fest showed off the diversity of acts both from New Orleans and around the world. Big crowds turned out not only for headliners such as Joel and Mayer but for local heroes Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Rebirth Brass Band, and Jason Marsalis, who performed an inspired classical jazz set. Mayer was back at the fairgrounds on Friday after cancelling his performance at the fest in 2012 (and most of the rest of his tour), due to a throat ailment. He strayed from his pop side and kept the set focused on blues and roots, including a Grateful Dead cover (“Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad”).


The ultimate Phil Ramone playlist: Hear definitive tracks from Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Dusty Springfield, and Paul McCartney

Over five-plus decades, album producer, engineering whiz, and recording innovator Phil Ramone won 14 Grammys and collaborated with some of the biggest lights in pop and rock: Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Lesley Gore, Dusty Springfield, Tony Bennett, Madonna, and Lady Gaga, just to name some of the bigger stars.

One of his most notable partnerships was with Billy Joel, whose sound Ramone helped hone on his mainstream pop crossover hit with 1977’s The Stranger. Over the course of Joel’s career, he became one of his most trusted collaborators. “I always thought of Phil Ramone as the most talented guy in my band,” Joel said in a statement on Ramone’s passing. “He was the guy that no one ever, ever saw on stage. He was with me as long as any of the musicians I ever played with—longer than most. So much of my music was shaped by him and brought to fruition by him.”

Ramone passed away at age 79 on Saturday, but his epic recorded legacy will live on. Check out our definitive Spotify playlist below, which includes hits from all points of his resume.  READ FULL STORY

New Orleans Jazz Fest lineup includes Fleetwood Mac, Maroon 5, Billy Joel, Frank Ocean

The year is not even a month old, but it’s already time to make your Spring and Summer festival plans. Coachella’s lineup should be announced shortly, but in the meantime, we can take a look at the always-eclectic batch of artists who will make their way to the Big Easy at the end of April.

The 2013 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival runs from April 26-28 and May 2-5 and features a wide-reaching list of headline-worthy names: the reconstituted Fleetwood Mac, Frank Ocean, Billy Joel, Maroon 5, Dave Matthews Band, Phoenix, the Black Keys, John Mayer (who just returned to the stage for the first time in nearly two years last night), B.B. King, and Hall & Oates. Jazz Fest is one of those everything-all-the-time festivals, so if you want to have an all-blues experience, that’s possible, but if you’re also just into jazz or zydeco or blue-eyed soul, you can have that experience too. And if you’re only into indie rock, Band of Horses is there to soothe what ails you.

Of course, there’s also the “Heritage” part of the festival, so essentially everybody in New Orleans who owns a drum will also be appearing on a stage somewhere. Those Treme extras will be rounded out by legends like Dr. John, Trombone Shorty, Allen Toussaint, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and dozens of others. Check out the entirety of the list here.

Tickets are on sale now. Who in this lineup are you most excited about?

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Bruce Springsteen, the Who, Billy Joel, and Beatlevana: On the scene at 12-12-12

Bruce Springsteen, the Who, Billy Joel, and Beatlevana: On the scene at 12-12-12

Wednesday night’s 12-12-12 benefit concert for Sandy relief was an unqualified success: Before even a single note was played on stage at New York’s Madison Square Garden, more than $30 million had already been raised for the Robin Hood Foundation through ticket sales, merchandise, and corporate pledges.

As a charity event, 12-12-12 was a slam dunk. As a musical entertainment endeavor, it was more of a mixed bag, full of plenty of glorious, triumphant moments for sure, but also bloated with curious choices and inexplicable performances.

Bruce Springsteen had the honor of kicking the show off, beginning his band’s brief set with “Land of Hope and Dreams.” As Jersey’s greatest ambassador for well over three decades, Springsteen sweated and howled through the opener’s anthemic refrain, only to raise the stakes on “Wrecking Ball,” a defiant anthem of hope from the album of the same name.

“Wrecking Ball” started a running theme of transformation through out the night: Familiar songs became re-packaged and recontextualized, and themes of renewal and rebirth crept up during the finest performances. READ FULL STORY

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