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Download Episode 029: The Pope Of Long Island (with Will Stevemann) (via LibSyn)
Typically, this podcast focuses either on Tucson’s local music/arts community or burritos. Billy Joel does not fall into either category. In fact, I don’t really have a strong opinion about Billy Joel’s music either way.
Will Stegemann does, however.
Will is one of the funniest guys on twitter (@BeTheBoy) and we share a major common interest (super-fandom of The Best Show on WFMU). I’ve always wanted to talk to Will about his up-and-down-and-then-up-again relationship with Billy Joel ever since I became aware of his blog (A Year Of Billy Joel). In 2012, Will embarked upon a project to listen to every single piece of Billy Joel music in existence (official albums, pre-solo work, bootlegs, you name it) to fully confront his nemesis head on.
Will HATED Billy Joel when he was younger, which is a sin growing up in Long Island. But a funny thing happened in 2012. This massive Billy Joel project turned into deep self-examination and an exploration of the threads that made up his life — family, class, his hometown, etc. At some point in the very near future, Will plans to put out a book chronicling his Billy Joel Experience. I can’t wait.
Will is a wonderful guy to talk to, and this is one of the best interviews we’ve done on the show. I know you’ll enjoy this one.
AS AN ADDED BONUS: Take your favorite Billy Joel tune and rewrite the lyrics to be about Mexican food. The winner gets a PRIZE! (no idea what the prize will be yet)
Bed music: dashflanagan
Songs in the podcast: None this time.
Get in touch: Email me at sidestreetspodcast at gmail dot com, or follow me on twitter, either on my personal twitter feed, or at the official SideStreets twitter page.
Topics: Billy Joel, the absence of moderation, plastic bowling pins, justifiable on-stage meltdowns, his punk record, a new appreciation for the man’s discography, Amityville, New Year’s resolutions, improper mastering techniques, seat belts, figuring things out, dogs on twitter, fathers and sons, tonic, gin, feeling completely lost in your early 20s, and the things we do for love.
-LET ME DO MY SHOW, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!
I recently did a guest spot on The Side Streets podcast. We talk about Billy Joel, Long Island and where I am with the book version of A Year of Billy Joel. Host Nick Prevenas is a delight. You should check his stuff out.
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.