Just before Christmas, I went to a Billy Joel concert at Madison Square Garden. He plays there once a month. It was something like his 438th consecutive sold-out show. He has become as much of a fixture at The Garden as non-championship New York Knicks teams.
Billy puts on quite a show. In the one I went to, he mixed in a lot of Christmas songs, which made the audience feel special, because we were pretty sure he hadn’t done that for the folks at 33 of his previous 36 monthly concerts.
Otherwise, it was all Billy Joel oldies, which are really the only kind of Billy Joel songs there are. I kind of wish he didn’t preface many of the numbers by saying things like, “And this is from an album I released in 1986…” because that made me feel like quite the oldie myself.
Many of his songs brought back memories. For instance, when he played “For the Longest Time,” I thought about how my wife and I were living in our first apartment when that album came out. And when he played “Uptown Girl,” I remembered fondly how Billy used to be married to Christie Brinkley and how their daughter ended up looking like him.
But it was great fun, and everyone sang along as we watched Billy and his piano revolve on the stage so that he could face all sides of the arena, which was kind of unnecessary, since, unless you were sitting in the first few rows, you could only see him on the big screens anyway.
As the evening progressed, it occurred to me that Billy and I have a lot in common. I know, you wouldn’t think so, what with him being a superstar and a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and me, um, not being those things. But consider…
- Billy and I are both bald.
- Billy and I both have beards.
- Billy and I both prefer to remain in our seats until the encores. What is up with the morons who stand up for the very first song? Why give a standing ovation then? Maybe Billy’s going to suck. You don’t know. The guy is 67 years old. He’s had substance abuse issues. He has no bone in his left thumb (from a motorcycle accident). He could get out to the piano and just drool for two hours. And it’s not like these idiots stand up to dance; they just stand there as if it’s one of those venues with no seats. And then the people behind them have to stand, and the people behind them have to stand, and so forth until it eventually gets to me, and I just sit there looking at the big screens, because, like Billy, I’m way to old to stand up for 2 1/2 hours.
- Billy and I both have about a 2-hour limit before we have to go to the bathroom. He may think I didn’t notice that the band took a break exactly when I really had to go, and that they came back on stage for their encore exactly when I returned to my seat. But I did.
- Billy and I are both very set in our ways. If I have one complaint about the concert, it’s that the band didn’t change up the arrangements very much from what was on the albums, many of which we originally purchased on vinyl way before it was cool to purchase music on vinyl. Similarly, if my wife has one complaint about me,* it’s that I hate making any changes in my routine.
Now, of course, there are some major differences between me and Billy Joel:
- Billy is from Long Island and I’m from Queens.
- Billy has appeared on Saturday Night Live and I once appeared on CNN.**
- Billy sang in an animated Disney movie while I wrote the script for my daughter’s senior film project.
- Billy hasn’t added much to his remarkable body of work over the past 23 years, while I have added substantially to my body.***
Those are the only differences that I can think of. So, you see, we’re more alike than we’re not.
So here’s to you, Piano Man. Sincerely, from Direct Mail Man.****
See you soon.
*”One complaint”–ha, ha, ha **To promote my book, Don’t Mind Him; He’s Pregnant.
***About 40 pounds. ****That’s what I do for a living. Unless you send me a ton of money to support this blog. Or buy about a million copies of my other book, Kids Are Dumb; Parents Are Dumber, which you can get by clicking the link on this page.