1. 'The Stranger'
“Piano Man,” “Just the Way You Are,” “Movin’ Out,” “New York State of Mind,” “Uptown Girl,” “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” “Allentown,” “River of Dreams” — it’s the radio airplay of the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s. More than three dozen hit singles in a 21 / 2-decade span. Albums that went platinum. Concerts that sold out in minutes. If it has sometimes been difficult to be the rock star Billy Joel — three divorces, two stints in rehab, one youthful suicide attempt — the man himself now appears to be one of the more down-to-earth guys in the business. “I think I’m pretty much a happy guy,” he says, then pauses. “Or a contented guy, anyway.”
This year, Joel was doing one of those music classes at Vanderbilt University. A kid named Michael Pollack asked if he could accompany Joel on “New York State of Mind.” Joel has heard these sort of requests for years- he once kept a gong on stage to get rid of poseurs — but he shrugged and said, “Okay.” Pollack was phenomenal and the video went viral. Still flabbergasted, Pollack says he’s getting writing gigs that he never would have otherwise. “He created the opportunity for me to create a name for myself,” he says in a telephone interview. “He’s given me an entire new career path.”
Joel hasn’t released a pop album in 20 years — he says he got bored and boxed in by the format — but, since having both hips replaced, he’s back out on tour. Once the pop star critics loved to hate, he’s seen his career burnished by a growing affection and respect. The Kennedy Center recognition, he says, still has him “a little hornswoggled.”
(By Aisha Al-Muslim, Newsday.Com, September 21, 2013)
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo joined hundreds of local residents, including singer Billy Joel, and other elected officials Saturday to personally clean up the shoreline off Oyster Bay Harbor. Cuomo, along with Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, attended the cleanup event at Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park in Oyster Bay. "After Hurricane Sandy, we learned protecting the environment is protecting ourselves," Cuomo said after arriving on Joel's aluminum landing boat.
Cuomo presented a proclamation to Friends of the Bay executive director Paul DeOrsay before heading out to help Joel and Neil Bergin, commissioner of the town's Department of Environmental Resources, clear driftwood from the bay. "I am a resident, and I love this area, and I want to make sure it is a healthy fishery," said Joel, a town resident who grew up in Hicksville.
Thousands of volunteers helped clean beaches and waterways at more than 50 Long Island locations, including Jones Beach, Robert Moses State Park and Bay Shore, as part of the Ocean Conservancy's worldwide effort to keep beaches and waterways clean. State Sen. Charles J. Fuschillo Jr. (R-Merrick), in partnership with the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, also hosted a four-hour beach cleanup at the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center in Jones Beach, one of the most used state parks. More than 500 volunteers collected more than 1,500 pounds of debris. "We love helping out," said Lindsay Kramer, 16, of Wantagh, who helped pick up cigarettes, balloons and nets with two high school friends. "We love the beach. This is life-changing."
"Piano Man" (No. 11): "It was written about L.A., about a piano bar. But L.A. is not really a bar town and it's really not a piano bar town. This was kind of an odd place. It was a place where people came to drink their troubles away after they lost at the track, so it was kind of an anomaly for Los Angeles. It could have been anywhere, really. It could've been about anywhere where they have a guy sitting at the piano singing to the leather banquettes."
A.G.: In 2008, you accompanied your wife on “Oprah.” You looked so uncomfortable, I remember thinking it looked as if there was somebody offstage pointing a shotgun at you to keep you from running away.
B.J.: There’s a pain-in-the-ass factor with celebrity. There are a lot of moments you don’t have because people interrupt them, and you try to be polite, but sometimes people just don’t think. I try to be as nice as I can and as polite and well mannered as I can, but sometimes it’s ridiculous, so I don’t go out as often as I should. I was never able to take my daughter to an amusement park, which I would have liked to have done, or do things in public, because it kind of gets silly with people’s perception. On the other hand, I was married to some beautiful women. I always get compared to how beautiful they are and how not beautiful I am, and it’s kind of funny, it’s like “Beauty and the Beast.” I don’t mind being the beast, I want them to be good-looking, and if they don’t mind me looking like me, why should I care?
“The Kennedy Center celebrates five extraordinary individuals who have spent their lives elevating the cultural vibrancy of our nation and the world,” said Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein. “Martina Arroyo has dazzled the world with her glorious soprano voice and continues to share her artistry with a new generation of opera singers; Herbie Hancock has established himself as one of the most innovative musicians in the world, constantly breaking musical barriers and redefining the art of jazz; Billy Joel’s melodies have provided the soundtrack of our lives for over four decades making him one pop music’s most prolific and memorable singers and songwriters; the remarkable breadth and range of Shirley MacLaine’s acting has left an indelible impression over a nearly 60-year career on stage and screen; from his legendary performance at Woodstock to his sweep at the 2000 Grammys and beyond, Carlos Santana’s artistry transcends genres while entertaining millions.”
This year, a revised Honoree selection process included expanded solicitation of recommendations from the general public and an advisory committee comprised of artists, past Honorees and Kennedy Center board members. Previous Honors recipients and members of the Center’s national artists committee, including Emanuel Ax, Alec Baldwin, Harry Belafonte, Joshua Bell, Glenn Close, Christoph Eschenbach, Renée Fleming, Morgan Freeman, Paloma Herrera, Lang Lang, Steve Martin, Leontyne Price, Chita Rivera, Arturo Sandoval, Steven Spielberg and Forest Whitaker also made recommendations. Kennedy Center President Michael M. Kaiser expressed the Center’s continued gratitude to the many individuals involved in the success of the Honors program. “In addition to recognizing some of the world’s most treasured artists, the Kennedy Center Honors supports a wide variety of artistic programming, as well as the Center’s educational and national outreach efforts.”