Q&A: Turning 60, Billy Joel is "happy and contented"

Fri May 8, 2009 4:41pm EDT
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By Ray Waddell

NASHVILLE (Billboard) - It's April in Manhattan but winter is lingering, a fact Billy Joel notices as he looks out the window of his West Village townhouse.

Joel is mildly surprised. "Oh, my God, it's snowing, look at this."

Yet not much surprises Joel as he approaches his 60th birthday, taking a break from the massively successful Face 2 Face tour with Elton John.

He has sold millions of records, has set multiple box-office records on tour, has endured personal and professional highs and lows, and has secured his place in rock 'n' roll history. Those who know him best say Joel's in a good place now, although that may not always have been the case.

"It's a different Billy I'm seeing on this tour, a very happy and contented one," John says. "He's always been funny, always been razor-sharp, but this is a very happy and contented Billy, and I'm very happy that he's found that space to be in."

Joel turns 60 on Saturday (May 9), a milestone he plans to mark not with a "wing-ding masquerade ball, no over-the-top rock 'n' roll affair, just a big family dinner." Joel seems, in a word, comfortable. He's generous with his time, warm and witty in his recollections and seemingly at peace.

Billboard: Do you do any kind of assessment at this point of your life and career?

Billy Joel: I'm not a looking-back kind of person. What I've realized about turning 60 is I'm not just one age, I'm every age I've ever been. Sometimes I'm 11, sometimes 16, sometimes I'm 25, sometimes I'm 38, sometimes I'm 42, sometimes I'm in my 50s. I'm all over the place. And it comes in handy, especially in this line of work.   Continued...

<p>Singer Billy Joel performs during the Rainforest Foundation Benefit Concert in New York, May 8, 2008. REUTERS/Keith Bedford</p>