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Sing Us a New Song, You’re Billy Joel, Man

Please, open the door, nothing is different, we’ve been here before …

All rise. The king of Long Island has something to say. Billy Joel has returned with his first piece of original music in three decades, the piano-driven ballad “Turn the Lights Back On,” which embodies the spirit and swelling pride of the burning piano meme. “Did I wait too long to turn the lights back on?” Joel sings from his stool. “I’m late but I’m here right now, and I’m trying to find the magic that we lost somehow.” Joel co-wrote the song with Arthur Bacon, Wayne Hector, and Freddy Wexler, and its release has been timed to his upcoming performance at the Grammy Awards.

While Joel released a studio album in 2001, Fantasies & Delusions, it solely consisted of classical compositions of his work performed by pianist Richard Hyung-ki Joo; his last original album of pop music, River of Dreams, dates back to 1993. In 2018, Joel told Vulture his logic for the song draught. “When I stopped writing songs — it was time. I couldn’t be as good as I wanted and that was driving me crazy. I was driving my loved ones crazy. I thought, this is ridiculous,” he explained. “I couldn’t be as good as I wanted to be. I was always trying to feel like there was a real progression in my work, and eventually I realized I was only going to be X good. Because of that I knew I was going to beat myself up for not being better.”

The release of “Turn the Lights Back On” ushers in a changing 2024 for Joel. In addition to movin’ out of his Long Island compound for Florida, the piano man will be ending his wildly successful Madison Square Garden residency in July after 150 performances. He’s still actively touring stadiums across the country, though, with co-headlining gigs with Sting, Stevie Nicks, and Rod Stewart on the calendar in the coming months. Hey, it’s his life.


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