Billy Joel Restarts The Fire

People used to write for musicals, for films. Songs were standards because the world went out and played them from sheet music and interpreted them. But in a post-Beatles, singer-songwriter world, how do these occasional songs break free and take on their own lives? I guess the only way I could be objective about it was to look at it and go, “If I hadn’t written that, I would’ve liked to have been the guy who wrote that.” Not that I thought it was going to be a gold record or a hit single or anything, but I could stand back and go, “That’s not bad, not bad for you, Bill.” Even the songs that to most people seem like “He must’ve known this was an obvious hit single,” I had absolutely no idea. “Piano Man” is not a typical hit single. It’s in 6/8 time; it’s five minutes and some seconds long, which doesn’t fit any format, about some guy sitting in a piano bar, totally not a typical pop tune. At that point I was writing songs and not thinking about me singing them. I decided in my early 20s, “You know what? I’m not going to be…

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