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Monday, May 10, 2021

The Genius of the Piano Man

 “I think music in itself is healing.  It’s an explosive expression of humanity.  It’s something we are all touched by.  No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” – Billy Joel

One of the most prolific lyricists and musicians of the last 50 years, Joel has had an amazing 33 Top 40 hits, all of which he wrote and sang himself, and he continues to maintain a concert tour schedule that would be exhaustive for someone half his age (he turned 72 on May 9th).   One of the best-selling artists of all time, he has been nominated for 23 Grammys (winning 6) and sold 150 million records.

In 2013 Joel was named for the Kennedy Center Honors for influencing American culture through the arts.  That honor followed a string of awards, including induction into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame (where he also received the Johnny Mercer Award for his creative lyrics), and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Joel’s strengths are in both the creativity of his lyrics and his wonderful abilities on the piano, an instrument he didn’t even want to play in his youth.  But his mother knew best (as moms always do) and insisted that he learn.  Using the carrot with the stick approach, she also allowed him to pursue his love of sports and he became both a standout football player and a great boxer.

But, it was after seeing the Beatles perform in New York that he got hooked on the idea of being on stage with his music, and he buckled down on the piano and honed his performance skills.  It was his autobiographical Piano Man in 1973 – a look back at his tough early years trying to break into the business – that became his breakout first hit, and he never looked back.

For an enjoyable couple of hours, visit the website http://www.billyjoel.com/lyrics to view his creative genius.  And, here’s a link to Joel’s performance of his number one hit “My Life,” which also was the theme song for the hit TV show, “Bosom Buddies.”


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