As the holidays approach, the Piano Man shares a weekend in a New York state of mind.
In 1975, Billy Joel flew home to New York after three years of living the itinerant rock-and-roll life in Los Angeles. Desperately homesick, he rushed off the plane and grabbed a Greyhound bus into Manhattan, his emotions swelling the closer he got to the city.
"I'm a New Yorker, and it's indelibly imprinted on my soul that this is where I'm from and where I should be," he says. When he got home he ran straight to the piano and within 30 minutes had written "New York State of Mind," which he calls "a celebration of a homecoming."
His latest musical endeavors are of a different genre. His current album, Fantasies & Delusions: Music for Solo Piano, is, as of this writing, number-one on the classical music charts. It features 12 original compositions by Joel that are performed by pianist Richard Joo.
But Joel still maintains his rock-and-roll roots. He sang at the star-studded America: A Tribute to Heroes telethon and The Concert for New York City that raised relief funds after the September 11 attacks.
When Joel's not onstage, he often cruises up the East River in one of the 38-foot Shelter Island Runabout powerboats that he designed. As he makes the trip from his home in Long Island to Manhattan, he's still awestruck by the New York skyline, and the strength of his fellow New Yorkers. "Even after the recent atrocities, people in New York are very resilient," he says. "They're not sissies. They go on with life, and adversity makes them even stronger."
Traditionally, the holidays are an ideal time to enjoy the spirit of the Big Apple, so here's a perfect weekend with Billy Joel in a New York state of mind.