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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