Billy Joel hasn’t made a new album of songs since “River of Dreams” topped the U.S. charts in 1993, and he’s fine with that.
“You get to a point where you realize: ‘I’ve done the best I can. Why am I driving myself crazy?’” Joel said, speaking Monday from his Long Island home. “As Clint Eastwood put it (in the 1973 movie ‘Magnum Force’): ‘A man’s gotta know his limitations.’”
Joel’s only post-1993 album, 2001’s “Fantasies & Delusions: Music for Solo Piano,” was an all-instrumental collection with a clear stylistic debt to Beethoven, Chopin and other classical music icons. It was not a commercial success, and Joel seems fine with that, too.
“I never wanted to be an oldies act, but I suppose I am,” he said. “I never wanted to be a nostalgia act, but I suppose I am. But I listen to Beethoven, and that’s really old stuff. Is that nostalgia? To me, that music is as alive as it ever was.”
… In a nearly hour-long interview with George Varga at The San Diego Union-Tribune, Joel reflected at length on his half-century music career. Here is an excerpt from that conversation:
Q: Duke Ellington was once asked what inspired him to compose. He smiled and said, “Give me a deadline.” Since you have the luxury of not having deadlines, unless they’re self-imposed, what inspires you to write now?
A: Everything! (Laughs.) I don’t write songs anymore, although I do write music. And some of that music, I suppose, could be the music part of songs. I’m used to writing in song form — let’s put it that way — and probably, unconsciously, I still do write song-form music.
Read more at The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Photo by Jeff Daly