Leading up to Billy Joel's 32nd concert at Nassau Coliseum Aug. 4, Newsday music critic Glenn Gamboa sat down with the Piano Man to talk about the landmark concert, his many other shows there and more. With that and so many other Joel interviews banked over the years, Gamboa knows more about him than the average superfan, we'd wager. So on Thursday, we held a Facebook chat with our critic so that folks could ask their burning Joel questions. Here's the transcript.
Delia Paunescu: Of which album is Joel most proud, production-wise?
GG: Billy Joel would say "The Nylon Curtain" is the best one. He likes the production and the way it all fits in together.
Delia Paunescu: Why do you think Billy Joel, both as a musician and as a celebrity, resonates so strongly with Long Islanders?
GG: They react to the fact that he's from here and he's never left for any length of time. His songs seem like every generation of LIer can relate to. And he's proud of where he comes from, which is not something a lot of musicians through the years have done.
Greg Emerson: Does Glenn know what Billy Joel's favorite cover of one of his songs is? If not, what is Glenn's favorite Joel cover?
GG: I know that he loves the Barbra Streisand version of "New York State of Mind." He also loves the Tony Bennett version of that song. My favorite is the Garth Brooks version of "Shameless."
Eric Seltzer: Do you think it will be a three-hour show like Shea? Can we expect songs like "Captain Jack," "Angry Young Man" and "I Go to Extremes"?
GG: It looks like it will be close to a three-hour show, with no opening act. "Captain Jack" is one of those rarities that Joel usually saves only for Philadelphia, where it was a big hit, but "Angry Young Man" and "I Go to Extremes" certainly seem like possible inclusions.
Strive NYC: You've seen Billy Joel before and after concerts: How does he prepare for a show and what's he like after? Does it take a lot out of him? How does he wind down?
GG: It depends on the show and his schedule. Before the show, he's usually just hanging out, trying not to use his voice. After the show, it depends on whether it's been a long day or long series of shows. These days, he just tries to go home or back to the hotel as soon as he can. For the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum show, my guess is he's going to be home before we all get out of the parking lot.
David Criblez: Are there any plans for a CD/DVD release from the Coliseum show?
GG: There aren't, but he will record it to save for posterity. So it's always possible.
Jennifer Matarazzo Berger: Of all of his tours on Long Island, which would you say was his most successful and why?
GG: The tour for "Greatest Hits: Volume 3" in 1998. He sold out 9 shows, which was unheard of at the time. It's still a record today for the Nassau Coliseum.
Alison Bernicker: What is the best Billy Joel show you've been to?
GG: My favorite was his show at The Paramount [on Oct. 16, 2013]. It was the smallest venue I've ever seen him in, and he was having such a good time playing in an intimate space.
Polly Higgins: OK, Glenn. It's time to pick favorites. Which Joel song do you think is the best, and why?
GG: I think "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" is Joel's masterpiece. It's musically ambitious as a suite of distinctive elements. It's lyrically potent with its tales of high school sweethearts reacting to a healthy dose of reality. And in concert, it's energetically performed, especially when the entire crowd starts waving Brenda and Eddie goodbye.
Kaitlyn Piccoli: Who's on your dream list for a duet with Billy?
GG: I got to see it already, but definitely Bruce Springsteen again.
Kaitlyn Piccoli: Billy Joel has hinted that he may have some surprise guests join him on stage, too.
GG: I have guesses -- he really doesn't want to put it out there. No one is confirmed. If I was betting, it would be friends like Paul McCartney, Sting and Bruce Springsteen. That's who I'm hoping for at least.
Melissabeth Kravitz: Does Billy Joel ever get sick of singing the same songs?
GG: I don't think so. He says that there are songs he gets tired of playing for himself. But when he plays them for other people, the energy of the crowd changes and he enjoys them again.
Mark Trezza: Not rock. He's not rock.
GG: Listen to "Big Shot" and tell me that's not rock. :)
Brett Matthew Nangle: Do you think Billy will have a good track to play that isn't done often relating to closing out the Coliseum -- Like "You're My Home" or "No Man's Land"?
GG: I do. I think "You're My Home" is a good guess. He said he was looking for songs that were more Long Island than he usually plays. Read all about it in my interview with him at newsday.com/entertainment/music/billy-joel.
Tara Conry Berghorn: What's Billy like in person?
GG: He's basically what you see on stage. He's very down to earth, has a great sense of humor, and he really doesn't take himself (or many things) very seriously.
Tom De Martini: How much longer do we have to endure stories about this has-been?
GG: I think that as long as Billy Joel is one of the top-selling touring artists in the world (and able to sell out Madison Square Garden every month, which people at the very top of their game can't do), people are always going to want to talk about him. ;)
Tara Conry Berghorn: Is it true that "Virginia" in "Only the Good Die Young" was a Holy Trinity Diocesan High School student?
GG: That song is definitely based on his experiences in LI high schools. But I don't know specifically if it's a single person or a combination of a lot of different girls.
Meghan Elizabeth: What song do you think Billy Joel should close Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum with?
GG: I think it'll be "Piano Man." That was what he planned to close down Shea Stadium with, even though he let Paul McCartney have that honor.
Question from a user on Twitter: Will Billy Joel ever get that road named after him?
GG: It's kind of up to the state house now. Everyone is OK with that happening, but it's just a matter of the timing -- of when they do it.
Another comment from Twitter: Will Billy Joel close Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum with a cover of Sinatra's "My Way"?
GG: He has a lot of respect for Frank Sinatra, but I don't think Billy Joel will try one of his songs.
A comment from our staff: If it hadn't been Billy Joel, who else could have closed Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum?
GG: Joan Jett (who just got inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), Twisted Sister or Mariah Carey. But Mariah has her own residency at a 2,000-seat theater in Vegas. Not sure anyone else could have sold out the Coliseum.
Lorraine Angela: I have no questions -- just glad he lives on LI and can move around like the rest of us and enjoy. I've seen him on the North Fork doing what he liked in his spare time, and I was happy to see him happy and free in the neighborhood.
Anna Schechner Kaplan: Can't wait!
Christina Markey: My Hicksville boy ... Go Comets. We love you.