Billy Joel Interviewed By The New York Times Magazine

Billy Joel Interviewed By The New York Times Magazine

Billy Joel will be featured in The New York Times Magazine this Sunday, and you can get a preview of the article below. Once a pop genius, always a pop genius. We ought to know by now.

Q: You’ve written almost no pop songs since your last album, 1993’s “River of Dreams.” Why did you stop?

B.J.: I never stopped writing music. I’m still writing music — piano pieces, orchestral music, dramatic pieces — but they could become songs. Some of them are like hymns that I just don’t have words for, but I might.

Q: Do you miss writing popular music?

B.J.: No.

Q: Why not? Is it too much effort?

B.J.: No, no, no, it’s not because of the effort. I got tired of it. I got bored with it. I wanted something more abstract, I wanted to write something other than the three-minute pop tune even though that’s an art form unto itself. Gershwin was incredible, Cole Porter was incredible, Richard Rodgers, great stuff, Hoagy Carmichael and John Lennon, the three-minute symphony. For me, it was a box. I want to get out of the box. I never liked being put in a box.

Q: Nice box to be in.

B.J.: Very nice box to be in for a while, but then it becomes like a coffin.

Q: You’ve always thought of yourself as a rocker, so if I went back to 1968 and told you that songs like “Just the Way You Are” would be standards now, would you be excited?

B.J.: Yeah, sure, I’d be excited, absolutely. When the Beatles did “Yesterday,” I remember the first time I heard it. I said, “That’s a classic, that is going to be around forever.” O.K., it’s a ballad. So what? The Beatles wrote ballads; they also did rock ’n’ roll. That’s the kind of mold I put myself into. I’m not going to just stick to one kind of music, I’m going to do all kinds of music. I like it all.

Read more at The New York Times.

Photo credit: Billy Joel in Sag Harbor, N.Y., with his pug, Sabrina. By Christian Oth

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