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Billy Joel’s groundbreaking 100th Madison Square Garden Residency Show was commemorated with an edited version of the concert airing on network television. The special entitled “The 100th: Billy Joel At Madison Square Garden” was broadcast in prime time on April 14, 2024 on CBS. For fans, this was a step up in production from even the official conc…
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Thanks to a recently-unearthed audience recording, fans can now hear Billy Joel's first performance at the legendary Madison Square Garden. The performance took place on December 14, 1978, more than a decade after Billy first took to a stage as a professional musician. Listening to it in 2024, perhaps the most interesting aspect about Billy headlin…
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In the last installment of our Evolution of a Song series, we explored an older song that sported a studio arrangement that couldn’t be replicated live. The same can be said of "The Ballad Of Billy The Kid," the subject of this episode. While the live version on Songs in the Attic became the definitive one for many fans, the Ballad of Billy the Kid…
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With few exceptions, Billy Joel’s albums were sequenced with two sides in mind. It’s a phenomenon that’s come back to the forefront with the resurgence of vinyl records: The act of listening to half an album, then flipping the platter to hear the rest. It’s a different experience than listening to the songs all the way through on CD or a streaming …
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The beauty of live music is that a song never sounds the same twice. Billy Joel’s no exception to this rule. And, with some songs nearly 50 years old by now, many of his older numbers have seen drastic changes over the years. In the first installment of our Evolution of a Song series, we tracked how "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" and "Everybody Loves Y…
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Billy Joel’s world tour supporting the Storm Front album was a huge success by all metrics. But behind it was a story almost as tumultuous as the album title and front cover portrayed. The tour was a necessity to earn back millions of dollars that Billy’s former manager, Frank Weber, had stolen from him over the previous few years. It also featured…
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2014 was a renaissance for Billy Joel. It’s almost hard to believe, given all the time he’s spent in the spotlight a decade later. But, he’d been relatively quiet in the late aughts and early 2010s. That made the flurry of activity this year all the more surprising. Billy kicked off his Madison Square Garden residency in January of 2014, which he s…
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What the new compilation Billy Joel Live Through the Years - Japan Edition lacks in new material, it more than makes up for in providing context to 40-plus years of music. The double-disc set, only released in Japan, features 32 live tracks recorded between 1972 and 2008. Starting with the Sigma Sound radio broadcast and culminating with a limited-…
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The River of Dreams album was Billy Joel’s introduction to a new generation of fans in the early 90s. With chart-topping songs, a notorious Grammy appearance, and an extensive world tour, it was a landmark in Billy’s career. But for drummer Zachary Alford, it was one of his first experiences in a major label session, and another step in his quickly…
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Before Billy Joel was a household name, and before he was even a solo recording artist or known as a piano player, he released his first album on United Artists Records in 1967. That album was The Hassles, by the band of the same name. Billy, still a teenager, wasn’t in the spotlight. Rather, he was the organ player who contributed a few original s…
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It’s easy to write off the lyrical content of love songs. They’re often fairly simple, and are more emotional than thought-provoking. But a good love song, like any song, reveals something about the writer, and, often, the listener. For our Valentine’s Day episode, we’re discussing our favorite Billy Joel love songs. But, we ended up doing more tha…
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Although Disc Two of My Lives kicks off with a live version of a classic 70s song, the rest of the track list features Billy Joel B-Sides and early versions of songs from the 80s along with a few album tracks. While it seems random initially, there’s a light narrative running through the selections. Here, you can compare work-in-progress tracks to …
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Since his days playing clubs and theaters in the early 70s, Billy Joel was always known for his passionate, high-energy concerts. That reputation only grew, literally and figuratively, as he graduated into arenas and stadiums after 1977’s The Stranger. That makes his stop at the Spectrum in Philadelphia on The Bridge tour a unique evening. Billy an…
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1993 was both the kickoff to a new album cycle and the end of an era for Billy Joel. River of Dreams came out in August, and was certified three times platinum by the end of the year. It was preceded by what was now a well-oiled publicity machine, and followed immediately by a world tour. But, the album was his last release of new pop songs. As suc…
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With 2023 coming to a close, we’re taking a look back at our year of podcasting and what’s happened in the world of Billy Joel. As always for our last episode of the year, we’re bringing some leftovers to the table: Odds and ends that didn’t quite make it into other episodes. Don’t worry, they’re just as tasty as our main courses. And you don’t eve…
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If you had to explain why Liberty DeVitto is a great drummer to someone who’d never heard a BIlly Joel record, how would you do it? That’s the question we’re exploring in our 100th episode. It’s a somewhat tricky proposition. Liberty’s a well-regarded drummer who’s played on dozens of Top 20 records and toured with some of the biggest acts in the w…
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Every two weeks, Michael and I release a podcast episode where we tell someone else’s stories. Except that’s not quite true. As we discuss every note on an album, or labor over every second of a concert recording, we also talk about ourselves. It’s one way music becomes more than just art. Billy Joel’s story becomes part of our stories, which becom…
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To paraphrase another famous rock band, Billy Joel’s The Vinyl Collection, Vol. 2 goes to 11. The box set treats fans to 21 years of classic songs with just shy of a dozen records. That’s including an album never released on vinyl before, and a long-awaited expanded version of a fan favorite. Released November 3, 2023, the collection includes every…
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The My Lives box set is a curious addition to the Billy Joel discography. The four-CD / one-DVD set, released in 2005, is a mix of unreleased demos, alternate takes, live recordings, cover songs, and a handful of album tracks. At the time, it was the first glimpse many fans got at unreleased material and songs-in-progress. The first disc, in partic…
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Unreleased for decades, Billy Joel’s 1972 Sigma Sound Studios concert was arguably the kick-start to his career. With a flop record in Cold Spring Harbor under his belt. Billy and his then-backing band performed live on the air for WMMR in Philadelphia. The session yielded a version of “Captain Jack” that became the station’s most-requested song fo…
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With a new album out and a New York-based band in place, Billy Joel was starting to heat up in 1976. His show at the Bottom Line in Manhattan on June 10th of that year is the proof. The album, Turnstiles, had just come out a few weeks prior. And the orchestra, as Billy was now calling the band, had been on the road for just over two months. The per…
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In 2015, Billy Joel wasn't just selling out shows. He was making headlines across the nation. His songwriting was praised by everyone from George Gershwin to Snoop Dogg. He made an unexpected festival appearance, and journalists were diving into his history, introducing him to a brand new generation of fans. It's almost hard to believe that just a …
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Billy Joel’s An Innocent Man album earned him a new generation of fans upon its release in 1983. But the accompanying tour didn’t kick off until the next calendar year. Dubbed “From A Piano Man to An Innocent Man,” the shows were unlike any other Billy had mounted until this point. The core band was augmented with backup singers and a horn section.…
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With An Innocent Man, Billy Joel took an important step forward by taking a big leap backward. Released August 8, 1983, the ten-song album sold a million copies within two months of its release and four million just a year later. And, it boasts a Number One single with two more hitting the Top Ten. The album, famously, is an homage to the pre-Briti…
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In 1987, Billy Joel and his band embarked on an unprecedented tour of the Soviet Union. And, when the original documentary “A Matter of Trust” came out, fans got a behind-the-scenes look at what turned out to be a controversial career move. At the time, the country was still under Communist rule, shrouded in secrecy, and, to put it mildly, deeply m…
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The first song on an album sets the stage for the record, but what about the closer? Should the last song act as a grand finale, leave you wanting more, or exist somewhere in between? In this episode, we’re finding out what worked best for Billy Joel. We’re ranking the closing songs on his 12 studio albums, plus the live Songs in the Attic, from ou…
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Summer is upon us and this summer, we are entering the season of celebrating Billy Joel's An Innocent Man. In celebration of the album's 40th anniversary, I (Michael) wanted to kick things off with this playlist episode. I'm celebrating that songs that inspired An Innocent Man. Some are obvious and some are more subtle but these next songs are clas…
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Live in Frankfurt is probably the closest BIlly Joel got to being in a Spinal Tap sequel. The show, recorded on June 18, 1994, is just as notable for its mishaps as it is the band’s solid performance. The show captures the band on the River of Dreams tour, and the full video gives a warts-and-all look at what can go wrong at a concert: We watch as …
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Greatest Hits Volume III had a lot to live up to. Volumes one and two documented Billy on a hot streak, releasing hit after hit and album after album. Those compilation records, released in one double package, became an iconic, best-selling release all its own. By contrast, Greatest Hits Volume III came out a few years after what became Billy’s fin…
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For over five decades, Billy Joel's illustrious career has produced a wealth of media, capturing his journey as one of the 20th century's most celebrated songwriters. Enter John Jackson, Billy's full-time archivist, tasked with collecting and organizing artifacts that range from photos and newspaper clippings to studio outtakes and raw video footag…
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Fans and critics alike took Billy Joel’s live shows in 1976 and 1977 as a sign that Turnstiles was going to be his big break. That wasn’t the case, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Starting six weeks before the album’s May 1976 release, the Turnstiles tour was Billy’s most intense schedule to date. It still stacks up against his busiest chart-topp…
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Billy Joel: The Video Album Volume II is another back and forth across Billy’s discography. The ten selections here vary from promo reels shot in the 1970s, unvarnished black-and-white live footage and barebones soundstage performances in the early 80s, to full-blown stylized and choreographed productions from the peak of the MTV era. Once again, w…
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In late 2021, a hidden gem in Billy Joel's history was released as part of a nine-record Box Set The Vinyl Collection Volume One. The two-LP Live at The Great American Music Hall was recorded in 1975 over several nights in San Francisco. It captured the band in transition before Billy kicked off recording sessions for Turnstiles. Now, fans can snag…
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Turnstiles is almost an overlooked gem in Billy Joel’s catalog. Released in 1976, the album featured many of the musicians that would go on to define his sound over the next decade of records And, many of the songs became concert classics and fan favorites in the years to come. At the time, however, it was a commercial flop that was eclipsed by the…
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This year, Billy Joel is embarking on his first co-headlining tour since 2009. And, the Glass Houses Podcast was there on opening night. Billed as “Two Icons, One Night,” the Billy Joel / Stevie Nicks tour kicked off on March 10, 2023 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Prior to the show, fans were curious about the show order, setlists, and …
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Just because a song is pressed to vinyl doesn't mean it's set in cement. Any band playing the same song live for years or even decades is bound to stray from the original arrangement. Billy Joel is no exception. And, given his dissatisfaction with his earliest records, it's no surprise that some of his oldest songs have seen significant revisions o…
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Here at Glass Houses - A Billy Joel Podcast, we’re not just Billy Joel fans. We’re also fans of other podcasts. Since setting up shop in early 2020, we’ve connected with other podcasters with shows about music. Some of them have had us on as guests, and now we’re happy to return the favor. For our second roundtable episode, we’re speaking with thre…
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1989 was a high water mark for Billy Joel’s career. He released another chart-topping album, Storm Front, and its number-one hit “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” That single also found a home in history classrooms around the United States - a feat fitting for someone who once aspired to be a teacher. But the events that preceded its fall release foresha…
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Billy’s return to touring in 2006 included a stop at one of the oldest arenas in the world. The concert was captured for posterity with a beautifully-shot, full-length video available for free online. On July 31, 2006, Billy and the band, minus a key member, played outdoors at the Coliseum in Rome. It was many fans’ first glimpse at the lineup he’d…
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The Nylon Curtain turned 40 last September, and we can’t help but take one last look at it as we start the new year. Back in September, we did our album spotlight where we discussed the history and making of the album along with our track-by-track commentary. This time, we’re speaking with two people who helped make the album into the classic we al…
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Sometimes the best part of a big meal is the leftovers. There’s nothing like taking a little bit of everything from the night before, heating it up, and settling in for a second round. And, for the second year in a row, just in time for the holidays, that's what we’re doing here at Glass Houses. This is our second Odds and Ends episode, where we ta…
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There are more than just musicians behind a great-sounding album. No matter how well they play, or how good the songs are, it doesn’t mean much if the recording doesn’t capture them the right way. And, when it came to many of Billy Joel’s most iconic albums, the person responsible for shaping much of their sound was Jim. Billy Joel, along with the …
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Did you know there’s a connection between Billy Joel and one of the most popular cartoons of the 1980s? We didn’t know either until a few weeks ago. Recently, Michael and I interviewed Larry Franke, who was second engineer on Songs in the Attic and the Nylon Curtain. During the conversation, Larry mentioned that, after working with Billy and Phil R…
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Filmed over two nights in June 1990, Live at Yankee Stadium was a hit on VHS and on cable TV upon its release later that year. But, it’s been overlooked in the decades after, with only a handful of songs available and a production style that quickly felt dated. But, that’s all changed with a deluxe release in the fall of 2022. Fans got to see a new…
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This episode is all about meeting new people in the Billy Joel world. First, we're telling the story of when we, your hosts, finally met after recording virtually for nearly three years. We've hinted at it online and some listeners asked about it. So, we thought we'd tell the story here along with our memories of seeing the new Live At Yankee Stadi…
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There are make-or-break moments in every successful musician’s career. Sometimes they’re huge, cataclysmic events. Other times, they’re subtle nods that point a performer in the right direction. For Billy Joel, a pair of shows in November of 1973 was the latter. And, we have the tapes to prove it. Piano Man had just been released, and Billy was gri…
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For someone who hasn’t released an album in nearly 30 years, Billy Joel is all over the TV. His music, his touring band, and his likeness get featured regularly on sitcoms, primetime dramas, prestige shows, and cartoons made for, for lack of a better word, mature audiences. These pop culture references have helped keep Billy in the public eye for t…
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The Nylon Curtain wasn’t nearly as popular as Billy Joel’s albums just before and after this release. But, it still spawned a handful of hits, classics, and perennial fan favorites and concert staples. And today, it’s regarded by fans and critics as Billy’s most accomplished artistic statement. Released in 1982, The Nylon Curtain came just after th…
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Even when looking at five decades of songwriting, album releases and concerts, 1978 stands as arguably the busiest, most successful, and most defining year of Billy Joel’s career. The year began with the smash hit album The Stranger still racing up the charts after its release the previous fall. 12 months later, Billy would wrap up 1978 with a stri…
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This fall, an often-overlooked live Billy Joel release is getting a second lease on life. The 1990 video release Live At Yankee Stadium is getting a makeover with remixed and remastered sound, an extra song, and a brand new edit. And, after a limited run in theaters, it’ll be available on Blu-ray along with a 2-CD or 3-LP release featuring 11 never…
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