Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Real-Time Thoughts On Billy Joel’s Millennium Concert, 12/31/99

  • This is not my fault, Enthusiasts.
  • I mean, it sort of is.
  • Never did I make it clear that the Donate Button is not the Request Button.
  • Donate comes from the Old English, and Middle French, and originally Latin.
  • Donationem.
  • It means “gift.”
  • It’s a one-way transaction.
  • “Hey, remember when Ginger Baker got a fistfight with Death? I liked that shit. Here’s twenty bucks.”
  • That’s how the Donate Button works, but–to be faaaaaaaaaair–I did not clearly outline the rules and regulations.
  • So I kinda gotta do this.
  • It’s not like I’m giving the money back.
  • That’s out of the question.
  • I’ve done a lot of shitty things in my life, but “giving the money back” is not one of them.
  • Have there been occasions where I should have–morally, ethically, legally–given the money back?
  • Fuck, yeah.
  • But a man’s gotta have a code.
  • And my code states that once the cash has gone from your pocket to mine, it doesn’t go back.
  • So I guess I gotta do this bullshit.
  • Suck my wet asshole, Billy Joel.
  • Three fucking hours?
  • I can’t do anything for three hours straight
  • I can’t even sleep for three hours straight anymore.
  • Got that Sleep Apnea.
  • Which is the worst apnea.
  • Ever have the Veal Apnea?
  • Melts in your mouth.
  • People say it’s cruel to strap CPAP machines on baby cows, but fuck ’em: that’s where the taste comes from.
  • Pairs well with a full-bodied red.
  • Any full-bodied red: wine or a fat communist, whichever.
  • No one has ever referred to Nikita Khrushchev as a “full-bodied red,” but they should.
  • HEY!
  • Mm-hmm?
  • You gonna talk about Billy Joel?
  • He’s playing the piano like a pussy.
  • Offensive.
  • True.
  • All pianists are pussies, and they sit down to pee.
  • Holly Bowling?
  • Sits down when she pees.
  • Fine.
  • He’s drunk and playing The Ballad of Billy the Kid.
  • Which I fucking love.
  • Especially the live version from Songs From The Attic.

  • The Ballad of Billy the Kid is Billy Joel’s Terrapin Station.
  • I want Nick Paumgarten to weigh in on that assertion.
  • There may be no human being on the planet more qualified to weigh in on that assertion than Nick Paumgarten.
  • I don’t know if he puts that on his resume or not, but I would.
  • We should discuss Billy’s hair, I suppose.
  • It is generous of me to call it “hair.”
  • This is New Year’s Eve, 1999, and Billy’s still holding on to the follicular aspirations of his youth
  • Now, what I think is going on up top there is that sprinkly shit you shake onto your head.
  • You see ads for it in the back of gentlemanly magazines.
  • Ron Popeil used to sell it, I think.
  • Although, even when Billy had hair, it wasn’t good hair.
  • It wasn’t Rock Star hair.
  • That hair inherited a chain of pool supply stores in Yonkers, and is fifty grand in debt to bookies.
  • Wanna see Rock Star hair?
  • That’s some Rock Star hair, man.
  • Plus bonus points for Slash wearing a shirt with his own name on it.
  • We won’t talk about Steve.
  • In fact, don’t even look at Steve; it’s unsettling.
  • He’s usually much better-looking than that.
  • See?
  • Nikki Sixx had better hair than Billy Joel, as well.
  • (FUN FACT: That beige building next to the Carvin showroom is the legendary Mexican restaurant El Compadre, which is known for its inedible food and nuclear margaritas. And if you walk either north or south around a half-mile from where Steven and Nikki are standing, you would be at my old apartments. I may have stumbled that half-mile many times.)
  • Anyway, what the fuck was I talking about?
  • Hong Kong, and their fevered march towards freedom?
  • The climate, which is going through them changes?
  • Titties and ding-dongs?
  • Oh, right: a three-hour Billy Joel concert from two decades ago.
  • Jesus.
  • Billy’s schnockered and playing the Moonlight Sonata.
  • Stop that, Billy.
  • This was Attila:
  • Attila was Billy’s heavy metal band; they put out one record in 1970, and it had the worst cover in music industry history.
  • Look at those poor bastards.
  • An album cover shouldn’t make you feel bad for a band.
  • Maybe that’s what they were going for.
  • A pity purchase.
  • “I wasn’t going to buy this record, but look how sad the little Jewish fellow looks.”
  • FUN FACT: Every used record store in the entire world has this album on display; you’re not even allowed to open up a used record store unless you own this album.
  • Atilla did not sell, the band broke up, Billy moved to Los Angeles, got a job at the Executive Room on Wilshire playing for real estate novelists and Davey, who was in the Navy.
  • It should be noted that, as I am mocking the man, I am also singing along with every song.
  • Every word.
  • I know every fucking word to every fucking song.
  • Wanna know a Secret of the Jews?
  • We LOVE Billy Joel.
  • He’s ours.
  • There’s an ownership thing going on.
  • Potheads have the Dead; Jerseyans have Bruce; fat chicks have Lizzo.
  • Jews have Billy.
  • That’s what “Chosen People” means: we chose Billy.
  • You put on Summer, Highland Falls at an AEΠ mixer, then arms will be placed around shoulders, and swaying will commence.
  • Hey, Palestinians.
  • You want peace?
  • Open up the next negotiations with “Bro, Nylon Curtain is seriously underrated.”
  • The mood of the room will change, I guarantee it.
  • Oh, wait: I wanted to tell you the Billy/Guns story.
  • When Guns played MSG in ’91, Billy showed up backstage, wasted and demanding Johnny Walker Black Label.
  • Which is wonderful.
  • “Get that Jack Daniels shit away from me. What’d you say your name was? Sploosh? Where’s your boy? Billy needs Black! SEND YOUR BOY FOR BILLY’S BLACK!”
  • Scotch drinkers are–to a man–assholes about their brand.
  • When I used to drink, my preferences were “red wine” and “vodka that isn’t Popov.”
  • Or whatever you were paying for.
  • Or banana schnapps one time.
  • I was living in the neighborhood I was telling you about before, the one by El Compadre.
  • Bought myself a pint of banana schnapps and drank it while wandering around the Ralph’s supermarket.
  • I’m not proud of that, but it happened.
  • Probably stole some sushi while I was there.
  • In my defense: I had spent all my money on the banana schnapps.
  • Billy’s introducing the band now.
  • Actually, he’s been doing it for ten minutes now due to a combination of Scotch-induced garrulousness and the fact that there’s two dozen people in the band.
  • Full-on Late Career Giant Band Phase.
  • Billy’s got regulation black-up singers AND white black-up singers.
  • Oy vey, he’s doing Uptown Girl.
  • I preferred the band introductions.
  • Good for you scoring a supermodel, Billy.
  • You didn’t need to write a song about it.
  • At least not this one.
  • Do you think the other rockyroll muses made fun of Christie Brinkley at their meetings?
  • Patti Boyd had Layla AND Something In The Way You Move written about her.
  • Rosanna Arquette?
  • In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel AND Rosanna by Toto.
  • Poor Christie.
  • Maybe that was why she divorced him.
  • Okay, Billy just took a break and now he’s back onstage in a tuxedo.
  • No one else in the band is wearing one, and so he looks like a schmuck.
  • Anyway, this show is at MSG.
  • Billy’s headlined the World’s Most Famous Arena over 100 times, including 12 nights in a row in 2006.
  • But he doesn’t have the record.
  • Can you guess?
  • What performer has toplined MSG the most?
  • Not the Dead (53 times).
  • Or the Phosh (60).
  • Those are bush league numbers compared to Gunther Gebel-Williams.
  • GGW was the star of the Ringling Brothers circus for three decades, and he tamed lions in the center ring in MSG over 1500 times
  • He didn’t play choogly-type music for Katy Tur and other media types, no: he locked himself in a cage with a dozen half-ton predators while wearing spangles.
  • Look at the size of the paws on Kitty up there.
  • Gunther TAMED that shit armed only with Teutonic will.
  • Shouldn’t you be talkiing about Billy Joel?
  • He’s playing We Didn’t Start The Fire.
  • Oh, good God; keep discussing the German animal-botherer.
  • Right?
  • Wait!
  • Y2K!
  • I totally forgot about Y2K!
  • Although, so has everyone else.
  • Younger Enthusiasts, gather around and let your Uncle TotD tell you a story about disaster narrowly averted.
  • Early computers were hilariously stupid.
  • There just wasn’t enough room in ’em, for one thing.
  • Nowadays, we measure digital storage in terrabytes, and will very soon go to petabytes.
  • Used to be  just plain bytes.
  • A byte is the amount of space a computer needs to render one character.
  • Z
  • That was a byte, that “Z.”
  • Notice how I didn’t use a period?
  • That’s because the period would have been a second byte.
  • Clever people figured out how to jam a whole bunch of information into a byte, but still: itsy-bitsy, and you only had so many of ’em in a system.
  • And so when these clever people were building important computers, ones that would keep planes from crashing into one another or economies from collapsing, they needed to maximize their processing power.
  • One of the ways they did this was by reducing the digits in dates from eight to six.
  • For example, instead of 10/31/1970, the calendar would read 10/31/70.
  • Problem solved.
  • Until someone–no doubt a very clever person–asked “What will happen in 2000?”
  • And then it was very quiet for a long, long moment.
  • And then it cost over $300 billion to fix.
  • Auld Lang Syne?
  • What is this, Downton Abbey?
  • Ride a giant hot dog or something.
  • Put your back into it, you drunken gnome.
  • It cannot be overstated how blitzed Billy Joel is at this moment.
  • Impression-drunk.
  • Some white guys, when they get shitfaced, start doing impressions.
  • Sinatra.
  • Arnold.
  • You might even get Generic Black Guy Voice.
  • You hope you won’t, but you might.
  • I might honestly prefer GBGV to River Of Dreams.
  • River Of Dreams sounds like Jimmy Buffet farting in a Sears.
  • What?
  • No.
  • NO.
  • This is absolutely the last request I take.
  • I love money, but not this much.
  • From now on, any requests must be made in drugs.
  • And I’m talking weight.
  • Ounce is the lowest I’ll go to do this again.
  • Not mids, either.
  • Scenes From An Italian Restaurant.
  • Scenes, braj.
  • Y’know the bit from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure when he’s in Texas and sings The stars at niiiiiight are big and briiiiight and everyone around him goes CLAPCLAPCLAPCLAP deep in the heeeeeeaaaart of Texas?
  • Walk into any building in Long Island and sing Bottle o’ red, bottle o’ white.
  • Same thing’ll happen.
  • My God, he’s introducing the band again.
  • These band introductions are like herpes: they just keep flaring up.
  • Speaking of herpes, Billy is now doing his Austin Powers impression.
  • In his defense, it was 1999 and Austin Powers impressions were 20 years more acceptable than they are currently.
  • IT’S AXL!
  • No, I lied.
  • That’s from 2014.
  • In 1999, Axl still looked like Axl.
  • And he hadn’t bought that hat yet.
  • Elvis.
  • Billy Joel is Impression-drunk, and has forced his band to play Suspicious Minds so he can do his Elvis voice.
  • But only the first verse.
  • It’s a Replacements show at this point.
  • And now he’s doing Mick.
  • The band’s playing Honky Tonk Women, and Billy is flat-out Mick Jaggering.
  • The lips and the moves and everything.
  • I’m in hell.
  • I am in hell and Billy Joel is the house band.
  • How about another picture with Axl?
  • “You!”
  • And then a riot broke out.

  • The music business industry makes strange bedfellows of us all, Enthusiasts.
  • FUN FACT: Billy Joel has never employed Buckethead, nor has he even heard of the masked shredder.
  • 2000 words?
  • About a Billy Joel concert?
  • I got a friend who’s a surgeon.
  • He separated conjoined twins once.
  • Not me.
  • I’m dancing like a monkey for chump change.
  • You underestimate how much saxophone there is in Billy Joel’s oeuvre.
  • However much you think there is, double that.
  • Double it again.
  • Add five.
  • That much sax.
  • And doo-wop.
  • Has Billy Joel always been this doo-woppy?
  • There’s so much doo-wop that stickball games keeps breaking out, and Mayor LaGuardia is on the radio reading the Sunday funnies.
  • Piano Man.
  • I thought he wasn’t gonna play it, but then BAM second encore.
  • Billy is plotzed, red-faced, and making up the words as he goes.
  • But y’know what?
  • That’s him with his new model wife getting honored at the Kennedy Center, so he’s doing just fine.
  • Good night, Madison Square Garden, wherever you are.


  1. JES

    I was a little cracker living happily in the Low Country for the first 13 years of my life, at which point my Dad ripped us from our ancestral home and moved us to deepest Nassau County, just before “The Stranger” came out. Jesus God, was the Cult of Billy strong and arrogant and intolerant there and then, brooking no debate, dominating every party. Public Billy Adulation Singalongs were required if you wanted any girls to even talk to you.

    I hated it. Those songs still give me the jibblies. His words and intonation do not fall naturally from my slurry Southern mouf. Fortunately, I discovered and embraced the Good Rats soon thereafter, joining the only viable tribe that could (barely) compete with the Borg Joel. The girls there were quite a bit gnarlier but, uh, you know, that was good, too.

  2. NP

    Attila=Mother McCree’s?
    The meat locker was Billy’s Watts Towers.

  3. Tor Haxson

    My wife loves billy,

    She might read this,

    She knows my internet name is Tor Haxson

    She was there when I became Tor Haxson.

    So what can I say about Billy that is funny, and about my wife loving Billy..

    NOTHING, there is nothing I can say, I am backed into a corner..

    I do think there is a point in musicians and bands careers where they make a choice.

    It seems that Billy took the road most well payed, as do many.

  4. Matt O

    Somehow, I always knew you were a fan of The Simpsons…Moon River IS one hell of a second encore.

  5. Luther Von Baconson

    Ode to Billy Joel

    I read this at 3 am after a Sleep Apnea wake up call. It was great then, when my brain was stuck to the top of my skull, and is still great 6 hrs later when it settled back down into the respective cups

  6. mjk

    billy a[ways seemed like a good guy. good piano player. but pat boone had more soul.

  7. The left lane is for passing

    Awesome. How about something with a Florida connection?

    What sort of weight are we talking to do a real-time Thoughts on Big Cypress?

    • Thoughts On The Dead

      Ounce of Chemdog

Leave a Reply