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Years In Review

EP 067 – Year In Review: 1978

Even when looking at five decades of songwriting, album releases and concerts, 1978 stands as arguably the busiest, most successful, and most defining year of Billy Joel’s career.

 

The year began with the smash hit album The Stranger still racing up the charts after its release the previous fall. 

12 months later, Billy would wrap up 1978 with a string of hit songs, gold and platinum albums and singles, dozens of reviews, interviews and media appearances and tour dates around the world. 

 

And, of course, he would also release 52nd Street, an album that rivals even The Stranger in terms of album sales, hit songs, fan reception, and accolades. 

 

There’s a lot to cover in the year that laid the foundation for the next two decades of Billy Joel’s music. 

 

Join us as we dig deep into Billy Joel in 1978.

 

 

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EP 058 – Year In Review: 1969

1969 should have been the year Billy Joel broke through. Today, we know it would be another few years before his solo career began, and a few more after that until things really took off. 

 

Instead, the end of the decade saw his longtime band put out a second album that went nowhere. Then, the duo he formed after barely got off the ground. 

 

It must have felt like an anticlimactic end to a decade that saw Billy’s career gaining momentum over the previous five years. Especially without the knowledge of what was ahead. 

 

Now, in hindsight, 1969 holds few clues to Billy’s work in the decades to come. Apart from a few interesting press clips and a couple notable encounters, there’s not much on the record. 

 

We may get more information on this part of Billy Joel’s history in the form of a new biopic that’s now in pre-production. But for now, 1969 feels like a footnote at the beginning of the big story we all know today. 

 

Join us, as we dig into Billy Joel in 1969, and the news of a movie that may explore that period even further. 

 

 

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EP 053 – Year In Review: 1997

For Billy Joel, or at least his record label, 1997 seems to be a year of acknowledgement. It had been four years since his last album, and since then Billy had been telling anyone who’d listen that he was finished writing pop songs. 

 

Now, it seemed like Columbia Records was ready to accept that – on their terms, of course. 

 

1997 saw the release of Billy Joel: Greatest Hits Volume III and a companion VHS and DVD release of his music videos from the same era. Then came a box-set-style release of all three Greatest Hits editions. 

 

Meanwhile, Billy hit the press circuit to promote Volume III and the cover songs he recorded for it. Along the way, we get hints and clues to projects he’d develop early the next decade. And, in lieu of touring, fans got his VH1 “Behind The Music” and Storytellers episodes. 

 

All this pointed the way for how Billy would handle the next phase of his career. And how his record label would make the most of its assets. 

 

Join us as we dive deep into Billy Joel in 1997.

 

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EP 040 – Year In Review: 1980

The Stranger made Billy Joel a superstar back in 1977. Three years later, his career really launched into overdrive.

 

In 1980, Billy was still reaping the benefits of two Grammy-Award winning albums. In March, he took his next step forward by releasing Glass Houses. That album would become a smash hit with a leaner sound that would propel him into the 80s.

 

And during the Glass Houses tour, Billy and the band would begin recording live versions of songs from Billy’s back catalog. These tracks would go on to comprise 1981’s Songs In The Attic.

 

All this activity made the beginning of the new decade a time where the past, present, and future of Billy’s career all happened at once.

 

Join us as we dig deep into Billy Joel in 1980.

 

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EP 033 – Year In Review: 1988 + Awards Show Appearances Part 2

Pardon the pun, but for Billy Joel, 1988 was the calm before the storm. 

 

Billy and the band had just come off an exhausting, groundbreaking two-year tour that saw them on four continents. And, they capped it all off with a historic run of six shows in the now-former USSR. Billy was the first pop act from the west to get this kind of access behind the iron curtain. 

 

Behind the scenes, Billy was ready for a break. In fact, he was ready to take some time off even before The Bridge came out in 1986. But, the record label insisted on a new album and tour. 

 

By the time this cycle was done, Billy powered down for a year. Aside from a few cameos, his work as a pop star was on hold. But, he pulled double duty on his work as a Dad. 

 

He spent time with his daughter, Alexa Ray, who was now two years old. And, when he went to work, he appeared on TV shows and in movies that would appeal to kids her age. 

 

The next year would be a busy one:A new album, a new lineup of musicians, and a lawsuit that would drag on for years. His career would look vastly different than it had just 12 months prior. 

 

We’ll get to that year in a future episode. But for now, let’s dig deep into 1988.

 

We also pick up where we left off with our Part 2 of covering Billy Joel’s awards show appearances and nominations.

 

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EP 028 – Year In Review: 1971

Apart from the botched release of Cold Spring Harbor, 1971 was a surprisingly low-key year for Billy Joel. His teenage band collapsed a few years before. And the proto-metal power duo that rose from its ashes failed to gain any traction. 

 

Broke, depressed, and aimless, Billy was ready to leave the music industry for good. And, he may have done just that, if his manager at the time didn’t come through with a last-minute deal. 

 

Of course, that deal would haunt Billy for years to come. After the album was released in November, he played a sparse handful of dates in New York at the end of the year. Meanwhile, there are no reviews, interviews, or press clippings to speak of. 

 

But look closely, and you’ll see a lot of small things develop, arrive, or otherwise get set in motion and affect his trajectory for decades to come. Join us as we dive deep into 1971.

 

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EP 025 – Year In Review: 1976

WIlliam Martin Joel had released three solo albums by the beginning of 1976. In many ways, however, that was the year he became the Billy we all know today. 

 

It was the year he recorded and released Turnstiles, finally winning his battle with CBS records to cut an album with his touring band. That band, of course, was now almost entirely the classic Lord of 52nd Street lineup. 

 

By then, Billy and his wife Elizabeth had moved from California back to New York. In the process he jettisoned any lingering west coast singer-songwriter stylings for East Coast grit. 

 

There were more changes behind the scenes, too. While not as well-known, these business moves and strategies played huge roles in his upcoming accomplishments.. 

 

True stardom wouldn’t come until the following year. But for now, we’re diving deep into 1976, and the 12 months that primed Billy Joel for the decades of success to come.

 

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EP 019 – Year In Review: 1983

They say it’s always darkest before the dawn. If that’s true, then the sun rose for Billy Joel in 1983. That’s not to say things were bleak before then. But the past year or so carried a more somber tone. In 1982, Billy was in a bad motorcycle accident that left his hands severely injured for months. Despite this, he completed, released, and toured behind The Nylon Curtain. That album is arguably his most ambitious, and also his most serious and thematically heavy release. 

 

But, that all turned around the next year. 1983 found Billy Joel jet-setting to private islands, dating supermodels and releasing his ninth studio album, An Innocent Man.  Stylistically, the music harkened back to the 50s and early 60s. And, in contrast to its predecessor, it was one of his biggest sellers, and easily his most light-hearted. 

 

An Innocent Man would go platinum seven times and spawn seven charting singles. In 1984, Billy would tour in support of his blockbuster hit. But, the previous year, he was enjoying life. 

 

In this episode, Michael & Jack are diving deep into 1983. The year that saw an album release, hit singles, heavy-rotation videos, tabloid-pages romance, and more for Billy Joel.

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EP 015 – Year In Review: 2003

The year was 2003 and once again, Billy was at a crossroads. He mounted a shorter Face To Face tour with Elton John before taking one of the longest hiatuses of his career which would stretch into the end of 2005.

 

Michael & Jack chronicle a year in which saw depression, Billy vocally discussing retiring, and the end end of the professional relationship with the longest tenured band member. But the year wasn’t all bad. Billy & Twyla Tharp launched the hugely successful broadway show Movin’ Out, had another successful run with Elton John and more. Michael attended 3 shows on that tour which we discuss as well.

 

Join us as we talk all things Billy Joel in 2003.

 

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Glass Houses – A Billy Joel Podcast on the web / social media:

EP 006 – Year In Review: 1994

The year was 1994 and Billy Joel is a few months into his hugely successful River of Dreams Tour. Michael & Jack look back at this year in review which proved to be a pivotal year for Billy as he wrapped up support for his final studio album, launched the first incarnation of the hugely successful Face 2 Face Tour with Elton John, and began talking about the current tour being his last long tour.

Personally this was a big year for the both of us. We discuss each of us seeing Billy live multiple times this year. We also dig into media archives with some fun interview and performance clips we’ve uncovered. Join us as we go back to 1994.