Episode #21

Billy Joel

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Monday, July 30, 2012


Billy Joel has sold more records than The Stones, Bruce Springsteen, and Madonna—though the “rock star thing” is something he can “take off.” Joel started playing piano when he was about four or five years old. He admits that he doesn't remember how to read sheet music anymore saying it’d be like reading Chinese. That doesn't stop the third best-selling solo artist of all time in the U.S. from plunking out a few tunes with Alec.

READ | Interview Transcript


Hosted by:

Alec Baldwin

Produced by:

Emily Botein and Kathie Russo

Comments [137]

james from United States

I love Alec's interviewing style, no stammering, no kind-ofs, sort-ofs, just straight ahead frank and courageous, thank you.

Dec. 06 2014 12:54 AM
Tony Cip

I saw billy with the hassles at the golden pheasant on union in I think (West) Islip. My friend jimmy Benedetto's sister Natalie took us on a Friday night and Sunday afternoon. The hassles shared the bill with a great psychedelic band from Deer Park called The Habit later called Ram. If I remember correctly Jimmy's uncle is Tony Bennett. What a long strange trip it's been.

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Dec. 10 2013 01:24 AM

I, too, grew up in Levittown, but I moved to South Carolina in 1975 at the crazy age of 14 1/2. About that time, Billy Joel was coming into his own, and his music provided a connection to Levittown and Long Island that I so desperately needed (I was not happy about moving from LI to SC). It's funny how friends of mine will tell me that "friends of their older brother or sister" knew Billy Joel, but I never met anyone who actually knew him. However, his music was my life . . . I do remember "those days hangin' out at the Village Green." My mother and I shared a love for Billy Joel's music, and while neither of us could sing, we would sing any Billy Joel song quite unabashedly! One of her favorite songs, and mine, too, is "Just the Way You Are." My mom passed away about two years ago, and this song always puts a smile on my face because I know my mom loved me just the way and I am and she never wanted me to be anyone other than who I am. I miss my mom, but I thank Billy Joel for connecting me to my Levittown, Long Island roots, and my mom. Billy Joel does us proud!

Dec. 04 2013 10:09 PM
Vic from .

The "Virtuostics"...((!))

We put up with them because soon they are going to
rid us of our Mormon problem. Then, we will deal with
these Virtuostics.

Oct. 29 2013 10:09 PM
Vic from .

Spooky Tooth...
Cool, man ~> & It was 1969 ~ {Alec, back then, you must have been hanging out with older dudes turning you on to this music}

I dig SPOOKY TWO (side 1) > "Feelin Bad"
TURN UP THE VOLUME!...& Get It On ~>

(Heavy Rock but not too Bulky)

[in October of 2013, who is really lookin to read this]

Oct. 29 2013 09:52 PM

when we become teenagers, we want to use our left hand's fingers for other stuff. we get it Billy, you practiced, but not on the piano. you did alright kid..!!

Oct. 05 2013 12:28 PM
Frank Kelland from Collinsville, TX

Hearing this for the first time on an archive recording. Excellent interview, Mr. Baldwin.

Sep. 17 2013 08:44 PM
KoriL from California

I've heard about this from many of my musician friends, and finally decided to take the time to listen. Nicely done interview with Billy Joel. Alec Baldwin is very engaging, and I thoroughly enjoyed the banter and the music.

Jun. 18 2013 09:55 PM
Durell from Bristol, TN

Yes, 'Surprises'....good choice, Billy. Hard choice, but good one.

May. 25 2013 03:40 PM
glass shallot from nyc

Billy Joel, lost outtakes from Songs in the Attic:

May. 09 2013 01:33 PM
TomK from NYC

Great interview, just listened on-line straight thru while working at my desk.
Also had Billy Joel's catalog of albums opened up on iTunes so I could skim thru the titles of the albums as they were discussed....really enjoyed this one
I graduated HS in NYC '79, and Billy Joel was the soundtrack to my teenage and college years. In the early '80's my friends ad I all lucked into part-time jobs working as security guards ("specials") at Madison Square Garden (& Yankee & Shea, too.) One of the coolest jobs was working concerts on multiple nights for the same show...very eye opening. I was surprised how rehearsed some were, when you didn't expect them to be (Van Halen, with DLR telling the same story each night about the drummer getting laid in the hotel elevator last night.)
But I saw Billy Joel on several concert tours, and got to see him two, three, four nights in a row, and every night it was a fresh show…he'd change-up the song list a bit, and always had original banter with the band and the audience....he was in his prime and really seemed to e enjoying himself.
My favorite story: Billy played the garden on New Year's Eve ('80? '81?) About fifty o us "specials" were sitting in the Garden seats, about an hour before the show, right near our locker room, waiting for roll call and our post assignments. We're half way up the arena, in uniform, all the lights are still as last-minute setup takes place on the stage below and out onto the walkway right in front of us walks Billy Joel. He gives us all a wave, and tells us he just came over to thank us and say much he appreciates us coming out to work on New Year's Eve. Then he tells us, to roars of laughter, "Hey I'm working tonight, too….maybe I'm making a few more bucks than you guys but hey, I'm still working here." That was a great night, and a great show.

Apr. 23 2013 07:27 PM

Absolutely loved the interview. I grew up in Levittown , hungout in Hicksville, listening to every Bill Joel album (70's-80's). He was always an inspiration to me and my friends (and we all forgave him for Uptown Girl - we just chalked up to Christie). He still sounds awesome! Thank you Alec for making this interview possible.

Apr. 16 2013 05:26 PM

Great choice! I don't think I've heard an interview with Billy Joel, or at least not in a long time. I couldn't tell if he really had self-esteem issues of if he was fishing for compliments. It's also nice for him to realize he's a good piano player, but a great performer overall.

Apr. 07 2013 03:22 PM
Sean G. from Granbury, TX

Heard (most of) this interview tonight for the first time. Really fun and awe-inspiring. Have been a long-time fan of Billy J., and was delighted to hear him talk on a down-to-earth level. Never thought he'd be the kind to be "full of himself," but nice to listen to his story all the same. Great stuff! :)

Jan. 08 2013 02:36 AM
Maureen from Milwaukee, WI

Stayed up way too late last night listening to this interview ---- laughing out loud in bed and singing along. It was funny, dynamic and one of the best interviews I've ever heard. Bravo!

Jan. 04 2013 12:13 AM
Karen from Durham, NC

Alec, this was a brilliantly funny and touching interview, one of the best I've heard. It deserves an award. Love your astute questions and the interactive, conversational style of the interview, which I'm sure puts your guests at ease. Billy Joel--I've always worshiped his songwriting and performance, but have an even greater sense of his musicianship, humor, and creativity now. Thank you--keep up the good work!!

Jan. 03 2013 11:54 PM
Charles Prescott

Heard the interview in bits & pieces in the car. Very funny. Heard a second time. Very,very funny. Had to stop work & listen. Just GREAT!!!

Jan. 03 2013 01:55 PM
Timothy Blotz from Minneapolis, MN

This is a great lesson in how success is relative. I loved hearing Mr. Joel say how he thought his "Streetlife Serenader" album was a total failure. I couldn't disagree more. It's one of my favorites, in fact, I still have my vinyl copy upstairs!

Jan. 01 2013 10:55 AM
Cliff Johnson from New England, USA

What a revelation. Not only is Billy Joel an outstanding talent, but he has a refreshing sense of humor about himself, his career, and his music.

Alec Baldwin is to be congratulated.

Dec. 25 2012 03:25 PM
Janelle Fiorito from Los angeles

I really appreciate this show. The people interviewed. The topics. And the interview style. A passionate conversation. I have an interview subject to suggest. Though it may be too intense it is relevant because of the recent school shootings. Dave Grossman - author of "Killing". His books are read by every soldier who goes to war as a way to prepare. He has some interesting things to say about school shootings.

Dec. 16 2012 02:59 PM
Alex J. Glass from Montréal, Québec

I liked you in Backdraft, quite some time ago, but I like you even more in those various interviews that you do, and the one with Billy Joel was so entertaining that I have recommended it. Thank you.

Dec. 15 2012 06:12 PM
Ray from Brooklyn, NY

Left-wing talk radio wasn't working for ya, Alec but this interviewing thing sounds very promising! Good job with Billy Joel.

Dec. 04 2012 11:24 PM
Jim Luther from Apple, Inc in Cupertino, CA

The download link is/was wrong. This corrected link ( was seems to be working, though:

Dec. 02 2012 10:02 PM
Oscar from ny

caught a few minutes one day on the radio and was very inspiring , now i cant listen to it , links are broken, not even itunes.. can anyone shareit..or can wnyc please fix this ?

Dec. 02 2012 08:04 PM
Dan from Berkeley, CA

Caught just a few minutes of the Billy Joel Interview on KQED this morning and loved what I heard. Tried to download the full interview here, but the download button doesn't seem to work. Even the podcast stream on itunes isn't helping: I can download more recent interviews (like the Paula Pell one), but not the Billy Joel one...

Dec. 01 2012 09:49 PM
David Kaye from San Francisco, CA

I don't like Billy Joel's music, but I'd heard KQED Radio billboard the show, and being fascinating by Alec Baldwin I thought I'd listen. He was able to get some fascinating comments by Joel about his abilities (he doesn't think of himself as a very good musician or singer), and we got a chance to hear some really awful early Bill Joel compositions. We also get a chance to listen to his evolution from covering rock songs to lounge music to original rock. I'm still not a Billy Joel fan as per his commercial output, but it was wonderful to listen to him diddling with the piano, showing the give and take that goes into a composition and performance, and other things that music fans don't often realize. I recommend listening to this interview.

Dec. 01 2012 06:25 PM
tor from San Francisco

Just heard this outstanding hour on KQED! Enjoyed learning about Billy Joel and his music. Just fascinating. And am totally surprised by Baldwin's sharp (and casual when needs be) interviewing style. Will be listening in the future, for sure! Thanks immensely, and well done!

Dec. 01 2012 05:10 PM
Robert Strell

I am so impressed by your interview and you ability to listen and help the flow of a conversation and create a balance that I have yet to hear in a star on star interview
I have downloaded all the other interviews
Thank you!! A very captivating radio show
You were wonderful

Nov. 23 2012 06:44 PM
Robert Fenton from NH

Grew up in Plainview in the 60's and 70's. That interview brought me right back. Loved it!

Nov. 17 2012 05:05 PM
Rob Pethes

fantastic interview, the singing, the laughter, I really enjoyed this segment, keep it up Alec, great job

Nov. 16 2012 02:11 PM
Greg from Earth

Alec Baldwin doing Tony Bennett, lol. Tremendous.

Nov. 15 2012 11:08 AM
greg from montreal

great interview, every musician songwriter should hear this, at times when Billy is singing, i hear Paul from the beatles, maybe it's just me...

Nov. 12 2012 07:24 AM
Lynn Turman

Music is why we're here, Billy. Put out some new music so I can buy it.

Nov. 11 2012 10:26 PM

I've long been a fan of Billy Joel's music. My Mom worked for him years ago in Lloyd's Neck; when my niece heard his songs she would say: "That's Oma's boss!" The way he treated my Mom reflected a decent, "normal" guy. So many songs come to mind but one of my favorites is "Good Night My Angel" a sweet, heartfelt gem of a lullaby.

Nov. 06 2012 10:13 AM
larain from NC

Love me some Billy Joel! He relaxes me like...whats relaxing? A nap? NVM. He is my favorite artist EVER!! I think he is BETTER than Christina Aguilara! In a way. He good at singing, songwriting AND playing piano! Um, no offense Xtina! I luv her too! (just not as much)

Nov. 04 2012 09:52 PM
Piper Jenson from Los Angeles

I can't stop saying "banana, banana, bomp-bomp, banana". I have a whole new appreciation for Mr. Joel now. Good times!

Oct. 31 2012 11:11 AM
Dana Lewis

Former Long Islander here. I have seen Billy in concert many times starting in 1984. I listened to Billy while I was in labor with my older son in 1999 (two days after I saw him in concert in NC-I wasn't due for 3 weeks so definitely love his music). I have seen him with Elton John (not so awesome, but I love them separately). I loved the video special of him in Russia and his daughter singing the abc song with just the letter B. I remember how pissed off/bitter he sounded during a concert when I saw him around 94 when he broke up with Christy. I couldn't figure out what the problem was and then shortly thereafter found out they were done. My husband and two sons love Billy Joel. Bummed I missed him in NY at Shea. I would love it if he would tour again. So many favorite songs.

Oct. 22 2012 10:16 AM
Chris Daniels from Denver

Thank you, to you Alec for doing a show about Billy's music, and to Billy for being so candid and honest about his passion for music. Just wonderful.
Chris Daniels

Oct. 20 2012 06:58 PM
Kathleen from Vermont

Loved the show this past Saturday! I was listening to Billy Joel say he didn't' sell too many Turnstiles records and I'm pretty sure I had the eight track tape of that album!

Oct. 16 2012 11:01 AM
Giacomo from Detroit, MI

Billy, you may not think you're a great musician, but the music you've written and sung has had a profound impact on me and everyone else who's heard it. thank you.

Oct. 12 2012 10:40 PM
Tony from New Jersey

All I can say Mr Baldwin is WOW .
Well done indeed.

Oct. 09 2012 08:57 PM

Billy, I grew up near the West Village Green, know Cristiano's, and went to HFS where you first played in public. Never knew how funny you were. Growing up on LI with your music was great. You and Baldwin together showed what an amazing pocket of America 'the Island' really is. Keep writing!

Oct. 08 2012 03:10 PM
Michael from Manhattan

Billy Joel is a New York treasure, aliving legend if you will you bring back the memories of the 60’s and 70’s the New York of Gimbles , Schraft’s Alison Steel “The Night Bird” , Scott Muni and the rest of the WNEW radio. . . Billy Joel you are in our memories and our hearts for ever !!!!. . . a little disappointed you played for the Germans knowing your background.
Its true as an artist are already married to something deep within you . . .no woman can replace that that’s why our marriages never last mine are 2!Art is born in us and is our constant companion We are all waiting eagerly for the next GREAT compositions God Bless you Billy Joel.

Oct. 08 2012 12:30 AM
Adriana from Jersey City, NJ

Love, love, love. This was a great conversation. It was cozy, warm, and insightful. thank you...

Oct. 07 2012 10:00 PM
Joseph S. from Suffern NY

Don't know how I missed this as a podcast, but SO glad I heard it on the air! Billy Joel is funny, wise with experience and comfortable sharing the interview with an excellent interviewer who obviously loves his work. Who knew that Alec Baldwin would be that good an interviewer? Thanks for this excellent hour plus listening in to you and Billy Joel .

Oct. 07 2012 08:16 PM
Nancy Deutsch from Massapequa, NY

Just magnificent - both of you.

Oct. 07 2012 12:54 PM
pooper from Vancouver Canada

Well done!

Sep. 30 2012 04:36 AM
clive betters

marc from brooklyn-

you must be a your own mind at least..

Sep. 18 2012 12:21 AM
marc from brooklyn

another great interview of another white man. awsome!!

Sep. 14 2012 09:07 AM
hogan from brooklyn

i'm the sucker. i like 'streetlife serenade'. 'souvenir' i believe, closed some shows solo piano.
great piece of radio all the same.
(tap tap) this thing on?

Sep. 11 2012 09:36 PM
doug kent from 11791

Very well done. Alec gets the best out of Billy. Very entertaining and interesting. Proud to be from Long Island(Massapequa)

Sep. 10 2012 04:53 AM
kevin from upper LS

@ carol irvin from cleveland ohio

"mistakes in his marriage.." who the hell is anybody, to comment on anothers personal life choices. i don't live with alec baldwin,and i'll assume you don't either.

Sep. 08 2012 11:17 AM
Ted Boardman from Bloomington, Indiana

Alec, your plea to Billy not to ruin Billy the Kid was hilarious. I laughed out loud when you gave in to Billy's relentless tell about the historical inaccuracies and the river flowing "east and west." It's still one of my favorites, although I love them all. Thanks for sharing this warm conversation with your fellow Long Islander.

Sep. 07 2012 09:42 PM
Doc Blues from Mount Sinai, NY

Billy was inducted into the first class of the LI Music Hall of Fame and his speech was priceless. He's a Long Islander from stem to stern, from Hicksville to Sag Harbor and we are proud of him!!!!!!!You can't take Paumonok from the boy....And yes Billy, we won't and don't take any s--t! glad you are keeping it real and doing what you want. Doc Blues
fmr Treas LIMHOF, founding Director LIMHOF, fmr Pres LI Blues Soc

Sep. 03 2012 02:38 PM
carol irvin from cleveland, ohio

this combination of alec baldwin with billy joel is perhaps the best radio interview of all time. that joel conducted it while welded to his piano, which seems SOP for him,made the whole thing. adding his music throughout was wonderful plus concluding with a number he personally likes. baldwin has made his mistakes with the media, on airplanes and in marriage but these tend to be tempests in a teapot for those who enjoy his talents. i will take a talented tempestuous personality any day over a complete bore. so i love this show and love him on 30 rock and SNL. i like many of his movies, especially Miami Blues, but it has been his most uneven medium. on tv and radio, he is perfection.

Sep. 02 2012 09:31 AM
Ralph Wiley from SoCA

Massapequa High
Our alma mater bright
Haven for youth
Your gleaming truth
Will guide us all through life
We hail thee Massapequa High
We swear allegiance till we die
To your honor ideals true
And your colors gold and blue

Sep. 02 2012 03:35 AM
John Blumer from Florence, Alabama

Billy Joel is an icon of New York "cool." And the dialogue and interplay between you two is hugely entertaining. Thanks so much, Alec, for an amazing interview!

Sep. 01 2012 12:36 PM
Tariq 'TEE-M' Mirza from Santa Monica, CA

Great interview...enjoyed it very much. I have 2 Billy Joel albums (LPs), Glasses Houses and Nylon Curtain which I used to crank up a lot. I hear The Beatles inspiration on the Curtain, so it was good to hear that it's Billy's favorite album...rock 'n roll...

Aug. 31 2012 10:26 AM
paul fogarty from Germany

fantastic interview Alec. You guys are so great together. Cheers from Germany/Australia

Aug. 31 2012 06:22 AM
Bruce Towell from Independence, Ohio

Great interview Alec, not many better than Billy that's for sure! As a musician I was hoping Billy might talk about his rehab process with his left hand. It was mauled in a motor cycle accident spring of 1982. Billy's had such a long career you'd be able to do a 4 hour show and still not cover everything/great job indeed though! thanks warm regards, Bruce

Aug. 25 2012 05:42 PM
Whitney from Nyc

Awesome podcasts. This is one of my favorites. My only note is I end up enjoying Alec more than his guests! Keep more of yourself in it. I like when the conversation is a two way street. Like someone else commented- we get to listen in on a conversation, instead of an interview. Keep it up!

Aug. 24 2012 11:17 PM
Anton Bockwinkel from Canberra, Australia

Deeply funny and insightful. Really enjoying these Alec. Thanks.

Aug. 23 2012 11:55 PM
bailey from stamford

Fantastic!!!! the best one!

Aug. 21 2012 08:56 PM

Great interview. Joel's songs perfectly capture the experiences, thoughts, and dreams of suburban New York teenagers in the 1970s. Classic.

Aug. 20 2012 09:00 PM
sue nathanson from Whitefish, Montana

I can remember hearing about Billy Joel as a 15 year old in Stony Brook, sitting beside the piano at Paul's Mall in Boston, seeing hin at Symphony Hall in Boston as his audiences grew and on and on. And then multiple times with Elton John. We have aged together and his music has been part of our daughter's life as well.I have been lucky enough to be listening to Here's The Thing since it began as I listen to WNYC from Montana now and Alec it is a wonderful show. I have listened to the Billy Joel episode more than once just to enjoy the joyfulness and the stories. Thank you.

Aug. 19 2012 01:05 PM

Awesome interview. Each one I listen to is better than the last. I am a big Billy Joel fan. This was just great. Like being in Billy's living room an listening on the conversation.

Aug. 17 2012 04:37 PM
Emily from Cincinnati, Ohio

What a marvelous conversion!
Thanks, Alec!

Aug. 17 2012 02:52 PM
H. Bob from Scarsdale, NY

Great of you to let us listen in on this chat. As a fellow life-long musician and music-listener, I can completely relate to the notion of one's music being an expression of self, a statement of the age, and a lasting gift to the world. Bill, you don't need no stinkin' book. And Alec, we've seen you on stage, screen, and small screen, but you really knock it out of the park in this radio format. Kudos to both of you.

Aug. 15 2012 09:50 PM
Blake Anderson from New Haven, CT

Wonderful! And I am not a big Billy Joel fan, but to listen in on these two talking is a real pleasure. I like how Alec Baldwin brings his own style to public radio.

Aug. 12 2012 11:28 AM

Great session that you two had together for this podcast.

I'm not so sure about Mozart on MSG tho'. Was Chinese food available in Vienna in those days??

Don't worry too much, Alec, that you're an actor instead of(?) a musician. It's all about communication; you just use a different "language" than Billy Joel and I do. (BTW, I do both. More music than acting lately, but I use each to complement the other.)

"Where's the Orchestra?" The orchestra is present to me when performing artists are communicating from the heart — passionately, with full commitment to "telling the story." The orchestra starts in the soul.

Thank you, both, for playing in that orchestra.

Mark Victor Smith

Aug. 12 2012 04:13 AM
clive betters

billy,i never knew lawrence welk was a vampire.

oh my god,this was so funny.....

Aug. 10 2012 08:15 PM
Sue from Michigan

So great! Thank you both for letting us attend your conversation.

Aug. 10 2012 07:39 PM
Drbsidle from Minneapolis, MN

I loved the interview, and waited with bated breath to hear about my absolute favorite Billy Joel song, Lullabye. Not a word. Rats. One question I would have asked would have addressed his piece in the Disney "Still Mad About the Mouse" but that was missed. Still, a great interview, and an introduction into a new favorite program, Here's the Thing.

Aug. 10 2012 02:49 PM
Jonathan from Richmond, VA

Mr. Baldwin,
I say this as an avid radio and NPR devotee as well as a creative professional – your interview with Billy Joel is one of the single most engaging, hilarious, and captivating pieces of radio I have ever heard. Thank you both.

Aug. 09 2012 10:00 PM
ishkabibble from Italy, Le Marche

BRAVI !!!!!!!!

Aug. 09 2012 09:16 AM
Emily from Aurora, IL

I am probably the youngest Billy Joel Fan on the planet, and I am also probably the biggest Billy Joel fan on the planet. I knew EVERY single one of the songs he mentioned in this interview! As a musician myself, I would DIE to meet him. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this interview. I loved how informal it was; I felt that I was sitting and having a conversation with you! Thank you so much for interviewing such a talented, gifted man!

Aug. 08 2012 11:55 PM
Mary Lynne from Harleysville, PA

Wonderful interview. Billy Joel you are the best!!

Aug. 08 2012 10:39 PM
damian collins from dublin ireland

Insperation .......absolute genious very enjoyable interview as usual billy cuts to the chase on answering questions ,never leaves the listener wondering what he ment .Love the music love the piano man .!!!!!! damian ireland

Aug. 08 2012 09:23 PM
Damian from Melbourne

What an absolutely fantastic interview. As for Sebastian, what an absolute oxygen thief.

Aug. 08 2012 04:21 AM
Jayne Lester from Doylestown, Pa.

Alec, thanks so much for a great interview with Billy Joel. Love hearing all the incidentals of his musical career. I feel like he and I grew up together, first saw him at Bloomsburg College, tuxedo and high top sneakers. I have loved his music ever since and it brings back such great memories. Your interview brought out the real guy. Can you guys come and do a live interview in my town?

Aug. 07 2012 08:34 PM
Mariboodebumbum from Hartford, UK

Lying around with nothing to do, playing around on my iPad I found this, let's just put it this way I'm going to listen to every other show! Alec Baldwin is beyond talented.

Aug. 07 2012 10:14 AM
Yvonne Dagger from Massapequa, NY

Great interviews, Alec!! You're a natural!!!

Aug. 07 2012 09:28 AM
Mick from Ottawa, Canada

GREAT INTERVIEW! I loved every minute. I love hearing interviews with musicians where the interviewer doesn't shy away from the musical references.

Aug. 05 2012 05:18 PM
Lily Campbell from Windsor, ON Canada

Saw Billy Joel a few years back in Detroit( Auburn Hills). One of the best concerts have ever been to!

Aug. 05 2012 04:37 PM
kevin from upper LS


where is the "interrupting"? it's a free flow conversational interviewing style. do you really want, the plodding standard fare Q&A? who in the hell, needs or wants that.

Aug. 05 2012 04:56 AM
Jackie from L.I. from Long Island

Baldwin, you shine in these interviews. You inject just enough of yourself, have perfect timing, and leave the impression that you should be best friends with any musician you interview. But also loved the Cavett and talks with others. Have any f-stop confrontation you need, you're the real deal.

Aug. 04 2012 08:15 PM
betsy from NYC

Excellent timing. At 54 I have never been a B.J. fan but I was driving upstate in a rental car last weekend & "Levett Town" came on the radio from a Woodstock station. I was amazed at what an excellent song it is. Now I've listened to B.J.'s own words & a few more songs that never stuck with me in the past & I have a new appreciation of the "music man."
A.B. - the first comment above from Lesley really cracked me up. I agree with everything she says about your style (I've heard 4 or 5 interviews) - except for the "keep it up" part. You drive me insane with all of your interrupting! Though, nobody else seems to be complaining so... each to their own.

Aug. 04 2012 06:13 PM

Dear Alec Baldwin,

This radio show is the best thing to listen to while doing dishes or folding laundry and that's important. It is great because of the way you flout all the rules of how to do an interview--you interrupt, you add in your own experiences, you singalong with famous singers, you "take back" questions when you think you got them wrong. I love all this. It is so much more human, humane, and humorous than most interview styles. And it sounds like you are having a lot of fun. Keep it up.

Also, Springsteen? Woody Allen? Joni Mitchell? etc.?

Aug. 03 2012 10:23 PM

What a sublime bit of radio. Thank you both.

Aug. 03 2012 07:34 PM
rossella from Turin, Italy

Dear Mr. Baldwin,
Just a few lines dropped from Italy to tell you that your interview with Mr. Joel was absolutely great! I enjoyed every seconds of it! Mr. joel was, is and always will be my favourite artist in music and, you're right, he is funny, interesting, ironic, sincere and...his voice...soooo hot!
But I've also discovered a new and truly talented "radio man". I knew you as an actor (movies and 30 rock...i love them!, but just listening to you and your guest made me realize that the true Alec is fantastic! Nice, funny, kind, discrete...You've been terrific! Thanks so much for the splendid job!

Aug. 03 2012 05:51 PM
Kerr Lockhart from Teaneck, NJ

Dear Mr. Baldwin,

I am 56 years old, trained in music and have been listening to the radio for most of those years.

Your interview with Billy Joel was the best I've heard with a musician, bar none, for one simple reason.

You let him talk about music and musical issues. Not hype, not pop biography, not literary metaphors for the music -- E flats and 8th notes. Great stuff. The real thing.

You are moving from strength to strength. Keep it up.

Aug. 02 2012 10:38 PM

Best interview yet. The show gets better and better. You really captured the vibe of "two guyz from the Island tawkin." I'm not sure all of the episodes should be an hour, but certainly, with conversation this entertaining, some episodes will warrant it. Keep up the good work, sir.

Aug. 02 2012 09:28 PM
Chris from Buffalo, NY

I really enjoy "Here's the Thing" and this episode with Billy Joel is terrific! Billy and Alec riff off of one another in such an entertaining way that I listened to it twice. Play attention to the early songs, a reggae version of "Only the Good Die Young," and what a producer can do for a recording artist.

Aug. 02 2012 08:45 PM
Scot Rague from New Gloucester, Maine

Love to hear interviews with Billy Joel and this one with Alec Baldwin(another Long Islander) Is a fantastic one. But when Billy referenced the album "Streetlife Serenade", He failed to talk about the second best song, on that album, in"Los Angelenos". Love that song. Otherwise just a great, great interview.

Aug. 02 2012 08:17 PM

This is the way I like interviews to be done. Billy's is by far my favorite.

Aug. 02 2012 05:45 PM
yehuda{jude}zafrani from israel

billy u r the graetest...
when u wull be at the roads???
we miss u ///
i wish u will come to israel////

Aug. 02 2012 05:18 PM
Kathy from Centralia, Illinois

I love you, Billy Joel! Great interview, Alec!

Aug. 02 2012 05:01 PM
Karyn Ferraro

Hi, I be try to get to talki with Billy Joel. Let me start by saying my brother I are huge fans been to 5 concerts of his together, we had every album on every venue ie cassette reel to reel album 8 track mp3
Any way my brother always promised that we would sut and talk with him, well my brother died unexpected last month, I cry for him every day I can't seen to get through this one!
Any way I listen to billy everyday..... It helps me get through each day
Please forward this to Billy someone, I want nothing but to talk with him!
Karyn Ferraro
Lorain ohio

Aug. 02 2012 04:43 PM
Billy Q from Winnipeg, Canada

I stumbled upon the show in June when work was slow, drawn in by the piece with Renee Fleming. Alex's style of really letting the guest talk, not always injecting his ideas but rolling with the flow of what the guest shares continues to be a winning combination. When the guest has the air, really insightful radio happens.My faves so far are Letterman, Cavett and Lorne Michaels. Keep 'em coming!

Aug. 02 2012 04:26 PM
MSG78 from New York

Alec, FANTASTIC interview with Billy Joel. This interview along with the Peter Frampton interview were two of the best I have heard from with two of my favorite artists. If you can get Bruce and Dylan to sit down with you it could be sold as package instructional on how to interview rock icons. Informal, funny, insightful, and very entertaining. Thanks and keep up the great work !

Aug. 02 2012 01:05 PM
Robin McGinnity Connelly from Kansas City, MO ;-)

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the (funny) and informative interview with Billy J. Great job, ALec. (and congratulations on your martial bliss! :-)

Aug. 02 2012 09:44 AM
Amy Miles from Seattle, WA

Alec, I am a huge Billy Joel fan and was so delighted to find him as a guest on your podcast. I have seen shows about Billy but never really heard him interviewed in his own words. As usual, you anticipated all the good questions I would like to have asked. I didn't realize Billy is so funny and entertaining when he's not singing, I haven't had the priviledge to attend a concert. Has he ever hosted Saturday Night Live? I think it would be amazing if they got both of you together, maybe Alec hosting and Billy Joel as a guest star.
Thanks again for this podcast, you made my day.

Aug. 01 2012 04:57 PM
EddieMack from NYC/LongIsland

Great stuff guys. Thanks !!!

Aug. 01 2012 04:16 PM
Mayor Bloomburger

Three words for Alec's next interview: Mr. Tony Bennet

Aug. 01 2012 03:23 PM



Re: your back up singing

Don't quit your day job.
We have other things for you to do...


Aug. 01 2012 12:10 PM

This interview is a NY Doubleheader!

Billy Joel IS NEW YORK!

The only time Ive ever seen him live ( and Boy, did I pick a good one) was when I took the Flushing Line. ( I just LOVE saying that..) out to the new SHEA a few yrs ago(and excuuuuse me, but Citifield don't cut it , and WHERRRE. may I ask, are the orange and blue SEATS !!!???

But I digress.

I was at Sir Paul McCartneys fantabulous concert OPENING NIGHT ( it rained for the first 2 hours, nobody cared....we were all in our Yellow Submarine..) I had floor seats 15 rows from the stage.
Probably the most exciting moment was when Billy Joel walked out onstage, sat down at the piano, and BLEW THE WALLS OFF of "SHE WAS JUST 17"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Billy Joel has soul power.

God bless you Billy. Come on now.....WE NEED TO SEE MORE OF YOU!!!!

Thanks Alec.
You are a natural for radio.
Thanks for helping to keep wonderful WNYC and radio itself goin strong.


Aug. 01 2012 11:37 AM
Debbie from Stamford, CT

Alex, your interview with Billy Joel brought back such great memories for me when I was a star stuck high school student back in the early 70's in Queens when my friends and I were totally into Billy Joel's music before most people even knew who he was. We were lucky enough to get tickets to his concert at Carnegie Hall when he was playing second bill to Jessie Colin Young.My friend and I went to Carnegie Hall a few hours before the concert to pick up the tickets. On our way out we stopped to look at a huge poster of Billy Joel. Till then we had not seen many pictures of him and I asked my friend, "Is this what he looks like?", when a voice from behind us said, "No, that's not what he looks like at all". We turned around and there was Billy Joel,in the flesh! We got to speak with him a few minutes as we all stood in front of Carnegie Hall. What an amazing treat and I still have his autograph saying, "we both made it to Carnegie Hall". Billy, thanks for the mention of Carnegie Hall in the interview, and Alex, again, thanks for the memories!!

Aug. 01 2012 10:21 AM
Terry Moran from Brooklyn, NY

Mr. Eagle -
Your true colors are showing. Simply having an opinion does not make you superior to the rest of us.
Ray Charles, Paul McCartney, Tony Bennett, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Leonard Bernstein, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Itzhak Perlman, among many others, have all publicly stated their admiration for Billy Joel's work. According to you, that makes them as tasteless and ignorant as everyone else here.
Count me among "those who should know better".

Aug. 01 2012 08:48 AM
Justin Eagle

Billy Joel??? Are you kidding me?

Just when I thought your new show was getting interesting Alec, you show your true colours, willing to interview the worst of the worst to score points with the tasteless and ignorant and those who should know better.

Aug. 01 2012 05:11 AM

Alec, I want your life. What a wonderful, wonderful interview! Loved it!

Aug. 01 2012 04:01 AM
Paul Cain from Western Australia

Dear Mr Baldwin
I have been pestering my family and friends about how great your show is. When I listened to your show with Billy Joel I could not believe how much fun and joy an hour of listening could possibly be. I can only now but silently shake my head at anyone who is not listening to your show.
Listening from the south west of Western Australia (down under)
thanks mate!

Aug. 01 2012 02:47 AM

Billy Joel is my all time favorite. His music, the words, the melodies, have sustained me through some of the most difficult times in my life, have kept me company on long, lonely road trips and taken me to another place in my heart and mind. I have never been to a concert of his, but not for lack of wanting. Maybe, before I leave this earth, I will get to meet him over a simple cup of coffee. This program is the first I have heard. You can bet I will hear them all, Alec does an extraordinary job. No wonder he is on Public Radio. Bravo!

Jul. 31 2012 11:35 PM
Sue from Seattle

FANTASTIC interview from AB! Devoured every second! (Same thing with Letterman and Frampton.) Thanks for having the piano in the studio so we could hear a master dazzle on the spot. Dual impressions of Brando killed it! I'm SUCH a fan of this episode and the show as a whole, the highlight of the Summer of 2012.

Jul. 31 2012 10:08 PM
Fleur from NYC

I had no idea what I was missing! Thanks, AB!

Jul. 31 2012 09:53 PM

Billy is my all time favorite. If the record sales don't clue you in to the fact that he's one of the GREATEST songwriters than someone bothering to verbally tear him apart should. Ignorance doesn't bother with people at the bottom. Anyway, one of the things that I think makes Billy so talented is his ability to reintroduce styles and write songs people love hearing. An Innocent Man wasn't stealing it was honoring. I wish Billy would stop putting down those songs of his that critics don't embrace. Uptown Girl may be a "joke" song but it's a classic. If it's a joke than it's the "Whose On First?" of songs. We Didn't Start the Fire... maybe it has a droning melody but the melody is not the driving force of the song. The melody HAS to take a backseat or you can't get all those historical facts and staccato rhythms to shine.
Who besides Elton John has made the piano such a staple of popular contemporary music? Let's not forget, although Elton is another AMAZING songwriter, he only does half the job. Billy writes music AND lyrics and does both with skill and competence. Billy, I hope you spend the second half of your life (yes, you will live to be at least 120) writing music that pleases you first if only for the love of the craft. But remember, music wants to be shared so don't be stingy. :)

Jul. 31 2012 06:53 PM

What a delightful hour. Alec, you can do ANYTHING!! I first heard you sub on Studio 360. You just know how to do it.

Jul. 31 2012 05:20 PM

Wonderful interview! I listened with delight and laughed out loud repeatedly.

Alec's appreciation of Billy's work informs every minute. Billy's genuineness blooms through the speaker. The fact that they are both so good at vocal impressions distinguishes this from just about any other interview I've heard.

I didn't want this to end and was SO glad it was an extra-long episode.

Bravo to both icons of Long Island!

Jul. 31 2012 02:37 PM

Thank you from one Streetlife Serenade fan.

Jul. 31 2012 11:16 AM
Danny from Long Island

Nice interview, I know there was an interview at one of the "Last Play at Shea" screenings, but this was a fun listen, moved along, and Billy's voice sounded really good, compared to the Howard Stern interview, where he was hospital bound and just wanted to hang out.

Is this the longest interview you've done on "Here's the Thing?" so far? Interesting as far as comparing notes, I think Alec can relate to Billy when he's done theater, but not the part where Billy goes in front of tens of thousands of people and puts on a 2-3 hour high energy show. Really cool that Billy did a few obscure songs that he never would do at an arena show.

There's so many Long Islanders that made huge contributions to music, hope you get around to all of them.

Jul. 31 2012 10:12 AM
Merv Wright from Lancaster, PA

OMG. Two Lawn-Guyland dudes, sittin' around, talkin'. They had me at "dueling Brandos."
Their discussion of Billy Joel's development as a musician is really interesting, if you can hear it all through your own guffawing. These gentlemen are so natural and funny together, they should take it on the road. Better yet, they should host the Oscars together; Alec standing at the mic, Billy sitting at the piano -- the two of them tossing the funny back and forth.
Everyone needs to hear this interview. But be sure you're wearing your Depends!

Jul. 31 2012 09:00 AM
Andrew from NYC

Awesome interview. I expected the show to be the standard 20 minutes or so, but was absolutely delighted that it went on for 60 minutes. It was funny, sentimental, and witty, listening to two veterans of their art, both icons to modern American culture. Big fan of you both.

Keep up the great work, both of you.

Jul. 31 2012 08:37 AM
Sam from New York

This interview was a treat. Billy Joel is a humble, funny man and Alec was obviously having a lot of fun.
Why do bigots like 'Sebastian' feel compelled to denigrate such an obviously talented man?

Jul. 31 2012 08:22 AM
teo yun yun from singapore

really enjoyable episode! Surprised to learn he cant read music any more!

Jul. 31 2012 05:30 AM
Tano from Perth, Western Australia

Alec, thank you for what you are doing with Here's the Thing. The series is proving to be a fascinating delight and insight. This one however has by far the greatest love. The banter, humour, familiarity and friendship exchanged between Joel and yourself is touching and hearing this was truly heart warming. Keep this series up. Its excellent! I can't wait for more.

Jul. 31 2012 03:50 AM
Tom Almirall from Elkton, VA

Saw this bike at Mr Joel's motorcycle collection last summer. He's terrific and so are you Alec. Two great L.I. Ambassadors. My father once taught Billy in high school English many years ago and thought he'd never amount to much. I argued differently and am glad his songwriting and playing spoke to me and countless others. Born and raised Long Isand.

Jul. 31 2012 01:19 AM
Britta B. from Cross River, NY

Half way into listening, greyt episode. Nice history, too. Thanx to all who put this together!

Jul. 30 2012 11:00 PM
Brian Kerr from Brooklyn, NY

This was an amazing episode. Thank you both!

Jul. 30 2012 08:29 PM

Sebastian, your ignorance is astonishing. Billy Joel had a musical heyday of chart success lasting two decades... the Beatles as a group managed 8 years. The success of his Tony-award-winning Broadway show MOVIN' OUT made him not only relevant, but revolutionary, even deep into the the first decade of this new century. He is THE most accomplished rock and roll pianist in history, with only Elton John and Little Richard in his league. He is imitated by artists, both male and female, to this day. I would wonder if you are actually as stupid as you sound, but your bringing up the fact of his "Jewishness" amply demonstrates the real line of "reasoning" behind your post. Crawl back into your hole, Sebastian. There are enough anti-Semitic morons walking the streets as it is...

This is the first "Here's the Thing" of which I stopped the podcast. Billy Joel is such an artifact. He wasn't any of those things that Alec purported him to be. Alec's spoof on his accent was true - he was a stupid little Jewish deeb from Forest Hills or wherever who sat at the piano imitating people with talent. He was nothing. Nothing. So he made some money and had a beautiful wife. Fine. He was nothing. I couldn't listen to this podcast. (Alec, you're brilliant anyway. Can't wait to hear your next podcast.)

Jul. 30 2012 07:54 PM
Joannie from Long Island, N.Y.

And I just wanted to add--Billy Joel--One of my favorites!!!

Jul. 30 2012 07:53 PM
Joannie from Long Island, N. Y.

Billy Joel--Great Music! Then and Now! Great-Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow!!! A very talented songwriter with a great singing voice!!! Very smooth!!!

Jul. 30 2012 07:50 PM
kevin from upper LS


are you perhaps,imitating a human being...?

Jul. 30 2012 07:38 PM
clive betters

i was howling and i was touched..

it was damn good......

Jul. 30 2012 07:32 PM

This is the first "Here's the Thing" of which I stopped the podcast. Billy Joel is such an artifact. He wasn't any of those things that Alec purported him to be. Alec's spoof on his accent was true - he was a stupid little Jewish deeb from Forest Hills or wherever who sat at the piano imitating people with talent. He was nothing. Nothing. So he made some money and had a beautiful wife. Fine. He was nothing. I couldn't listen to this podcast. (Alec, you're brilliant anyway. Can't wait to hear your next podcast.)

Jul. 30 2012 07:27 PM
clive betters

two long island rowdy boys in the same room.....

can't wait to hear this one....

Jul. 30 2012 05:53 PM
Celeste M Walker

Wonderful platform. thanks!

Jul. 30 2012 02:44 PM

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