Billy Joel says he took 17 years to release new music because “it wasn’t fun anymore”

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In a recent dialogue with his lyricist collaborator, Freddy Wexler, a luminary whose craft has adorned the works of icons such as Justin Bieber and Kanye West, Joel unveiled a period of estrangement from the joy of musical creation.

This confession occurred during an Audacy Check-In episode aired on the first of February. Joel articulated a rediscovery of music’s inherent joyfulness, a sentiment he confessed to having abandoned. This abandonment was not a mere disinterest but a profound aversion to the act of creation itself, nurtured over nearly two decades.

Joel imparted to Wexler, “There was a time when the creation of music was synonymous with enjoyment. The essence of rock n’ roll was its playful spirit. However, a shadow had been cast over this light, extinguishing the joy I once found in it.”

He elaborated that, for seventeen years, despite numerous attempts by others to coax him back into the realm of musical composition, he remained steadfast in his refusal. Joel described his aversion to songwriting as a form of self-inflicted torment, driven by an unforgiving standard he set for himself.

“The act of composition,” he said, “became a source of anguish. I harbored a lofty standard, chastising myself for any perceived shortfall. This relentless self-criticism drained my will to continue, leading me to forsake songwriting to escape the resultant self-loathing.”

Notably, on January 24, 2024, Joel graced the stage at Tokyo Dome, marking a significant moment captured by Taylor Hill’s lens. This performance was a prelude to his revelation that the creative spark rekindled within him upon encountering Wexler’s recent compositions.

Billy Joel found an immediate connection with the melodic structures and lyrical themes Wexler explored, recognizing in them a reflection of his own musical ethos. “The harmony, the progression of chords, and even the rhythm signature,” Joel remarked, “resonated with me profoundly. It was as if the music spoke directly to me, echoing thoughts and words I’ve long harbored.”

This resurgence of passion culminated in the release of “Turn The Lights Back On,” Joel’s first new song in seventeen years, on February 1. The song represents both a homage to his faithful audience and a personal meditation on his hiatus from music-making. Available across streaming services and as a collectible 7″ vinyl, the track symbolizes Joel’s reinvigorated connection with his artistry.

Moreover, Joel’s upcoming performance at the Grammy Awards, his first in twenty-two years, alongside contemporary music luminaries, signifies a reemergence into the musical forefront. This performance, set against the backdrop of the Arena in Los Angeles, heralds a renewed engagement with his craft and audience, bridging a hiatus that spans decades.

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