falconieri said: So have you become a "fan" yet? Seeing him 2 times in concert has to do something for you. :)
Undoubtedly yes. In fact, take the quotes off of fan. I can and will have a lot to say about this in my book but the short answer is: Billy Joel fans were right, I was wrong.
Dear Billy Joel fans and curious readers,
I had to go back. After seeing Billy Joel for the first time last week I had to go back to The Hollywood Bowl to see if what I experienced could be repeated.
Also, I had be given a pair of tickets, which made a return trip a lot easier on my wallet. I love going to see live music but I’m not rich so I’ve gotta pick my spots or get lucky; on Billy’s brief Hollywood visit I was fortunate enough to do both.
Last week I wrote about how going to the show felt like reaching the end of a very long and rewarding journey. I felt like I had made it someplace that I was supposed to be. If last week felt like going back home to Long Island and having a great time, the second trip was confirmation that where I came from will always be a part of who I am. The set list, like the places I remember, may change, but the feeling is the same.
Nearly two and a half years ago I started this project with the goal of finding out why Billy Joel and his music meant so much to so many people. Over time I found a lot of explanations why but more importantly, I discovered that I AM one of those people.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a book to finish.
Will Stegemann - A Billy Joel Fan
The Hollywood Bowl is a terrific place to be but a difficult place to get to, which is why I was glad I took the shuttle from Westwood to the Bowl. As our bus made its way east to our destination I had time to think about what I was doing. I said to my wife:
"I just want you to know that I’m really excited. Not ironically excited either. Seriously, like a little kid. I’m really excited to finally be seeing Billy Joel."
She nodded and laughed at how improbable it was that this was happening. She said that she couldn’t believe that a seemingly inconsequential moment like her stumbling across “Billy Joel: Last Play At Shea” in January 2012 had led us back to the neighborhood where we used to live, to see someone I once swore I’d never listen to.
We made it to our seats with time to spare and waited for our friends to join us. It was really happening.
The show itself was everything I could have asked for. The set list was a mix of hits, fan favorites and deep cuts and Billy seemed to be having a good time on stage. One of the things I have really enjoyed as an observer of his recent return to the spotlight is that he seems like he’s in it for himself. Sure, he’s giving fans what they want too but he seems like a guy just happy to be doing a job he loves. As he said at one point, about being a rock star: “if you can get this job, take it.”
One of the primary lessons of A Year of Billy Joel for me was understanding how much the music I was listening to had impacted my life, Watching Billy and his band play songs that had meant so much to my family and friends made me feel connected to them in ways that only music can make you feel connected. The fact that these same songs have finally come to mean something to me made the connection even stronger. I regret that I’m unable to talk to my late father about it, to tell him he was right but I’m grateful that my mother is still here as she’s less likely to say “I told you so.”
Towards the end of the night my wife insisted that I stand up when Billy began “Piano Man.” She explained: “When you’re at the church of Billy Joel, you better stand up for Piano Man.” She was right, and I did.
The evening and my long journey to the church of Billy Joel ended with my wife and I happily singing along with the rest of the crowd.
It was a long road to The Hollywood Bowl last night, but I finally made it.
Guess who is on the shuttle to the Hollywood Bowl to see Billy Joel for the first time?
This guy, and a lot of other people.