Billy Joel has debuted a limited-edition summer clothing line, with his website warning jocularly — tweaking a lyric from "The Entertainer" — "They won't be here in another year."
Originally made as merchandise for a planned tour by the Hicksville-raised Rock & Roll Hall of Famer before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Downeaster apparel at his BillyJoelShop.com unveiled Wednesday includes hoodies, shirts, a hat and a chef's apron, plus bandannas custom-made by actor Colin Hanks' Hanks Kerchiefs. Available for preorder, they are set to ship Aug. 31.
"Introducing the Downeaster Collection, inspired by summer living on the East Coast soundtracked by your favorite Billy Joel songs," says the five-time Grammy Award winner's social media. The main Billy Joel website says, "Perfect for driving around with the car top down or cruising through Block Island Sound." The line references a lyric from his 1989 song "The Downeaster 'Alexa,' " about a striving and beleaguered Long Island fisherman, who pilots his downeaster boat "through Block Island Sound" after fueling up in Montauk and leaving "this morning from the bell in Gardiners Bay."
The 10 items, including children's sizes, feature a pocket T-shirt with a "Downeaster" logo; a T-shirt and a bandanna each themed to shark fishing, perhaps alluding to the shark fisherman Joel played in his video for 1985's "The Night Is Still Young"; and both a hoodie and a sun shirt emblazoned with "Captain Jack," from his 1973 song on the album "Piano Man." A chef's apron cheekily reads "We Didn't Start the Fire,” the title of a song that, like "The Downeaster ‘Alexa'," appears on the 1989 album "Storm Front."
When one fan posted an Instagram Stories photo of the shark-fisher shirt, captioned "Super excited to receive my Billy Joel shirt next week," the singer's social-media team reposted it on Joel's Instagram Stories — prompting the fan to then upload that post with the words "Well that's super exciting!" and an arrow to Joel's Instagram handle.
The apparel is made for Joel by Barking Irons, which already does some Joel clothing.
The term downeaster or down-easter refers to, among other things, a type of boat, generally commercial, originating in the shipyards of eastern Maine, though boaters debate the exact definition. Joel's boat Alexa, one of at least 20 he's owned, is a 600-horsepower, 36-foot fiberglass cruiser built by the now-defunct company BHM.
In a 2018 interview with the boating magazine Soundings, Joel, 71, who lives in Centre Island, called it "the best boat I ever had. She can take a rough sea, and she tracks on a good line." He noted, "The boat came first, and then the song. I named the boat after my daughter" with ex-wife Christie Brinkley, singer Alexa Ray Joel. "I'll always have Alexa."