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Out on the water, an oyster dredge circled the seeding beds while baymen raked clams in the flats. He told a joke that involved Mozart erasing something in a mausoleum; the punch line was “I’m decomposing.” He knocked off an ash.
Whenever anyone asks him about his pre-show routine, he says, “I walk from the dressing room to the stage.
“I like the popcorn.”They sat outside until almost 2 People tend to assume, given the recent burst of reputational favor and vigor in performance, that Joel must be sober, that the narrative of redemption must rest on abstinence. Joel steers clear of spirits, he says, and just drinks wine, in moderation. He cops to having had lots of problems in the past, drinking to excess, behaving like an ass. I love you, Billy, and this is tough love.”“Elton is just being Elton,” Joel responded to writer Fred Schruers—the book was originally intended as an as-told-to autobiography, but at the last minute Joel, increasingly uneasy about revealing so much of himself, pulled out and sent back his advance—Joel wrote Elton John an angry note: “What gives you the omnipotent moral certainty and authority to justify the public humiliation of anyone—especially of someone to whom you should, at the very least, consider according a modicum of honor?
” You’ll hear Long Islanders tell old stories about the time they saw Joel at this or that Huntington bar, the man not looking his best. approach and favors the kind of self-moderation that A. Elton John, who did a number of tours with Joel, told in 2011, “Billy’s a conundrum. He’s going to hate me for this, but every time he goes to rehab they’ve been light . It was dark, it was icy, he’d had eye surgery, the Citroën 2CV is a tricky little car.
There were, in the past decade, a couple of interventions and a couple of stints in rehab, in 20. We’ve had so many cancelled tours because of illnesses and various other things, alcoholism . But it is true that these incidents coincided with a rough patch in his life—one of many over the years, the catalyst usually a breakup or a divorce. His friends and collaborators give these periods a wide euphemistic berth.
And then, a few minutes later, I’m just another schmuck stuck in traffic on the highway.” It’s true: the transition is abrupt, and it has bedevilled rock stars since the advent of the backbeat.
But this schmuck is usually looking down on the highway from an altitude of a thousand feet. Joel was wearing a black T-shirt tucked into black jeans, black Vans, and an Indian Motorcycle ball cap. “He’s early.” A helicopter zipped in over the oystermen and landed down by the water, at the hem of a great sloping lawn, where Joel had converted the property’s tennis court to a helipad.Joel, who refers to his former wives as Ex 1, Ex 2, and Ex 3, says that he is in no hurry to be married again. “You see this and you tell yourself, ‘I gotta do a good one.’ ”Since the beginning of the year, Joel had been playing the Garden once a month. All twelve had sold out well in advance, and the secondary market was tight. Steve Cohen, who has been Joel’s lighting designer since 1974 and his creative director since the mid-eighties, handed Joel his suggested set list. At other sound checks, I’d seen him scrap such mainstays as “Angry Young Man” (the tempo was lagging, and the sentiment felt false) and “Captain Jack.” (“Dreary, dreary, dreary,” he said. ” A roar greeted the opening notes of “Just the Way You Are,” and up in Section 106 I could see some women of a certain age singing along and dabbing their eyes.