Billy Joel The Definitive Biography started out as an autobiography. Joel killed the project at the last minute, however, he allowed his co-writer to redo the book as a biography. They had so much audio recorded of Billy and everybody in his life that it almost reads like an oral history, as there are significant quotes from Billy and others on just about every page. The author also does a nice job of working song lyrics into the narrative.
I learned a lot about Billy Joel that I didn’t know. That isn’t really a surprise. I don’t dislike his music, but I don’t own any of his albums and don’t really pay attention to his career. A couple of examples include:
His grandfather was a well off factory owner, and Jewish, in Nazi Germany. He was forced to “sell” his factory to a Nazi, and shortly after fled the county and ended up in the US via Cuba.
Many, maybe most of his songs are deeply auto-biographical.
Like just about every highly creative person (or so it seems), he is haunted by the demons of addiction and depression.
He is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and he has been honored at the Kennedy Center. He has sold tens of millions of albums. He has multiple $10 million plus mansions. He owns boats that cost more than I’ll earn in my entire life. He was married to Christie Brinkley. In short, he has lived the dream rock and roll lifestyle.
I’m a middle class dude with a stable 30+ year relationship with an amazing wife.
I’m fairly certain Billy would trade places with me. I have the one thing he wants more than anything. That lifetime relationship.
Sorry Bill, but no deal.
Seriously though, the book is really interesting. You should read it.