January 14, 2015

Billy Joel & the Art of the Battle

My Life 

I first met Billy Joel when I was in first grade and the song "My Life" came on the car radio. To this day, it's still one of my favorite songs of all time. Years after I first heard it I finally recognized the Beatles overtones in the song. As you can tell I didn't meet Mr. Joel as a first grader I was just introduced to him.


Okay, I didn't really meet him. I almost met him about 20 years later, in 1998, in Auburn Hills. We met one of his background singers and he got Billy to sign the tour program. It was cool. He was walking in front of us and had on a tour laminate. I said to him Hey are you a roadie. He stopped and said that In fact, the Roadies don't really like to be called Roadies. After some discussion he said that the microphone right up there on the stage was where he spends most of the night. Lori and I spent several minutes chatting with him about working with Billy Joel and the grind of touring and how Roadies prefer not to be called Roadies. Alas, I never officially met Mr. Joel.


I've been a fan of his since first grade. I graduated from high school in 1990. Actually, 1990 is the first time I saw him in concern, also at the Palace of Auburn Hills in February. It was a great show. I'll never forget the crowd singing "Piano Man" to HIM instead of him singing it for US.  Not long after the show concluded, Billy said to the crowd, "Don't take any (stuff) from anyone." I remember thinking that was so cool and said to my buddy Bru who was with me something to the effect of Wow that was so cool. Did you hear that? He had heard it. It was definitely an inspirational moment for me. And great advice.

Changing of the Guard

Billy Joel is awesome. He has had a great career, still tours today, has had three major biographies written about him — AND HASN'T PUT OUT A NEW ALBUM SINCE 1993. I still remember when RIVER OF DREAMS arrived in August 1993. It was a much different approach than Joel had used in the past and it had been produced by a new producer Danny Kortchmar who had worked with Don Henley in the past so I thought that was pretty cool. I remember the first time I heard Joel's new song "Famous Last Words" and I told some friends that something was definitely up with Joel. Then, when we went and saw the concert in November at Rosemont Horizon in Chicago and he sang "My Life" which he hadn't sung in concert in years, I told my friend Brian that Indeed something was happening. We saw the concert in the middle of November. Later we hard that he and his wife Christie Brinkley had separated a week or so later during Thanksgiving.

Stay the Course

Billy Joel is a rock star, an entertainer, and has been for the better part of five decades. He's looking older now and is not nearly as brash as he was in the '70s and '80s; however, he is still a damn fine rocker. I'm going to get back to his closing comments which he has been apparently using for years, "Don't take and (stuff) from anyone." It means so much on so many levels: do your own thing, believe in yourself, stay focused, stay the course … but JUST DO IT and believe in it and don't worry for a second about the detractors, the doubters, or the naysayers. Somebody is always going to discourage you, knock you down, make you feel like you're less of a person than you really are. Just don't take it.

Advice & Inspiration

And if you ask me that's some good advice. Like when I asked Bru Did you hear what he just said and he said he had heard it. It's something you don't miss when you hear it and when you take it to heart you're going to be more capable of achieving your dreams regardless of what the person in the next office over or your neighbor or even your relatives say to turn you down. Turn down for what? Turn it up, move it forward, and don't take any stuff from anyone.

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