I’ve seen Billy Joel in concert seven times. Yes, SEVEN. And while every one of those on-the-road shows was magical in its own way, I’ve never seen him play a home game. Apparently, his New York City shows, charged with the energy of an adoring hometown crowd, are incredible.
Well, as luck would have it, things are about to change for me. Tonight the Piano Man will be ringing in the new year at the Barclays Center here in Brooklyn, and Mike and I will be there! (Also, Ben Folds Five is the opening act! I can’t friggin’ believe it. More on this later.) I am pee-my-pants excited about tonight’s show, so in celebration, I thought I’d share my own BuzzFeed-style listicle of five quintessentially “New York” selections from the Billy Joel catalog. I hope you enjoy.
(Also, be sure to tune into “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest” on ABC tonight. They’ll be cutting to the concert after midnight, as Billy will be performing the first song of the new year.)
Have a happy New Year, and I’ll see you all in 2014!
“Why Should I Worry?”
Performed (though not written) by Joel for the 1988 Disney animated film Oliver and Company. Dodger, the shades-sporting mutt who rules the streets of New York, cockily boasts about his “street savoir-faire.”:
Named for the Manhattan street on which Joel’s record label and studio were located at the time of its recording (1978), and a tribute to the street’s history as a famous jazz-performance corridor. Despite being the title track from one of his best-known albums, this little number remains a relative obscurity in the Billy Joel catalog:
“Big Man On Mulberry Street”
A big-band inspired highlight from the 1986 album The Bridge. Joel self-referentially conjures a “Mr. Cool” poser strutting around lower Manhattan “like he’s the King of Mulberry Street”:
“Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out On Broadway)”
From 1976’s Turnstiles, and inspired by the infamous “Ford to City: Drop Dead” headline in The Daily News. Joel’s lyrics imagine the Big Apple’s apocalyptic demise from the perspective of an aged survivor who watched it all go down. (Note: the “distant” future from which this old-timer gives his account is now only three years away. Yikes):
“New York State of Mind”
Joel wrote this number to celebrate his New York homecoming after living in Los Angeles for several years. Said to have been composed within 20 minutes of his return, the 1976 release has since become an extensively covered standard and Joel’s own definitive NYC anthem: