The legendary singer joins Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder on the illustrious list of Gershwin winners
Billy Joel has added the Gershwin Prize for Popular song to his long list of accolades. The 65 year old is being recognised by US Library of Congress, which honours individuals for their lifetime achievement in popular music. He will receive the prize in Washington DC in November and be honoured in a series of events.
Billy Joel performs at the MGM Grand in 2014 (Getty/Ethan Miller)
Calling Joel a “storyteller of the highest order,” Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said in a statement that, “There is an intimacy to his songwriting that bridges the gap between the listener and the worlds he shares through music. When you listen to a Billy Joel song, you know about the people and the place and what happened there.”
Joel, who has sold more records than any solo act except for Garth Brooks and Elvis Presley said: "The great composer, George Gershwin, has been a personal inspiration to me throughout my career. The Library's decision to include me among those songwriters who have been past recipients is a milestone for me." (BBC)
Joel’s career has seen him rise from a self-confessed ‘regular guy’ from Long Island, who isn’t very good at playing piano (again, his words, not ours), to legendary American musician behind hits like Piano Man, New York State of Mind, Movin’ Out, Uptown Girl, River of Dreams, and Just the Way You Are. Previous recipients of the prize are Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Burt Bacharach & Hal David and Carole King.
In an all-encompassing interview with Howard Stern, Joel opened up on a range of subjects including drugs, alcohol, and forming a super group with Sting. He also talked about growing up Jewish and attending Christian church. “I grew up in a neighborhood of mostly Italian, Irish and Polish. Everybody went to mass…. My mom decided I would get religion when I was 11 and she took me to a Protestant church. Then I got baptized.”