Billy Joel hasn’t written a lick of new work since 1993, but he’s still selling out show after show. His concerts at Madison Square Garden, a once-per-month “residency,” have routinely sold out (44 straight) since starting in 2014, and his other shows at different stadiums (also about once a month), always draw huge crowds and positive feedback.
Additionally, Joel also been more apolitical than most entertainers, even telling Time magazine in May of last year, “who cares about the political opinions of a piano player?”
This week, however, Joel injected a bit of humor into the vitriol of today’s politics.
Billy Joel and patti smythe play "goodbye to you," showing photos of trump staffers pic.twitter.com/s8DxtAuG62— Pete Catapano (@pcatapano) August 22, 2017
Often, Joel brings celebrity guests on stage to either perform a duet, introduce a song, or make their presence at the show known; this time he featured solo artist Patty Smyth to sing “Goodbye to You” (which reached 65th on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982.) As they sang, every member of President Trump’s administration that’s been fired or left after just seven months flashed on a screen — including Sean Spicer, Anthony Scaramucci, and most recently Steve Bannon. The crowd got fired up the most when the embattled former Chief Strategist appeared on the backdrop screen.
Not everyone was a fan of Joel’s political display; he also came out for his encore wearing a Star of David, seemingly in response to the Charlottesville riots. This stirred up the long-contested debate of if performers should get political on stage:
@billyjoel no problem with the Jewish star, But political slideshow with Patty singing "Goodbye to You" crossed the line. Goodbye to u Billy— Gina D (@QueenGeeD) August 22, 2017
How about, "GoodBye To You!" Thought No politics! Can't listen to Springsteen anymore, either!— Eliza Sarra (@Happyboater1) August 22, 2017
For the most part, Joel has stuck to his guns about letting his concerts just be concerts, telling Rolling Stone in June, “I’ve been to shows where people start haranguing the audience about what’s going on politically and I’m thinking, ‘You know, this isn’t why I came here,’” the singer explained. “As a matter of fact, one of the biggest cheers of the night comes when we do ‘Piano Man’ and I sing, ‘They know that it’s me that they’re coming to see to forget about life for a while,’ and the audience lets out this huge ‘ahhhh’ and I say, ‘OK, yeah, don’t forget that.’”
When he does enter the political arena, Joel usually keeps his involvement light and humorous. He dedicated “The Entertainer” to Trump at a concert last year. Joel also performed at Barack Obama’s inaugural in 2009.