For years, Billy Joel has talked about retirement being on the horizon. But now, as the Hicksville native is set to turn 70 next month, he may be looking at things differently.
“I've become very comfortable with that concept of maybe you just don't retire,” Joel said Tuesday, calling from his Florida home. “Maybe it just keeps going because people want to keep seeing it. And it's a great job. I have a great band. I play great venues. And I make great money. So what's wrong with that?”
Joel admits that when he turned 60 and 65, he talked about retiring from performing pretty regularly, but he doesn’t anymore. “Hopefully, with age comes wisdom,” he said. “It just seems like it's not so far-fetched to continue to do what you have learned how to do all your life. And it seems like the natural thing to do. If I stopped, I wonder if my not doing something would contribute to an earlier death.”
Joel said he has been inspired by friend Tony Bennett, who joined him onstage at his Madison Square Garden residency show in March. “He's 92 and he’s still belting it out and the place went crazy when he came out,” Joel said. “I think he's still enjoying it. I saw that and went, ‘He's really having a blast’ … He says, ‘You got to keep the energy going. The audience is giving me this energy and I can't throw that away cause I gotta use that.’ And I think there's something to that.”
Joel said he hadn’t seen the video of the cast of “Avengers: Endgame” doing their version of “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” which was going viral Tuesday. The actors, including friends Robert Downey Jr. and Paul Rudd, retooled the classic with help from Jimmy Fallon to explain events in the Marvel Universe. “I was at his wedding,” Joel said of Downey. “I’ll have to watch this.”
Joel still enjoys performing the song live, though he does worry about forgetting lyrics. “I have a TelePrompTer that has all the words, but I try not to look at them because you get hooked like that,” he said. “If you end up relying on it, then you don't think anymore. So, it's kind of a game to try to remember all the words. I actually look at people in the audience singing and try to read their lips.”