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Essay: Thank you, Billy Joel, for all the memories

Billy Joel plays his 100th show at Madison

Billy Joel plays his 100th show at Madison Square Garden on July 18. Credit: Myrna Suarez

The occasion of Billy Joel’s 100th show at Madison Square Garden on July 18 brought back great memories.

In the early 1990s, my husband, Joe, was invited to attend a concert while on a business trip to Hartford. Billy Joel was our all-time favorite performer. His CDs always blasted in our car on road trips. So Joe was ecstatic about the invitation — and I was a tad jealous.

Upon returning to his hotel, he immediately called.

“How was the concert?” I asked.

“Fantastic,” Joe said. “And you’ll never guess what happened! After the concert we all went to get a bite to eat and who walks in but none other than Billy himself, complete with his entourage. So, I walked over to him and introduced myself . . . I held out my hand and said, ‘Hi Billy, I’m Joe from Massapequa Park. Great concert.’ Then he held out his hand and said, ‘Hi Joe, I’m Billy from Hicksville. Glad you enjoyed the show.’ ”

A few years later, Joe attended a boat show at the Nassau Coliseum, and Joel was scheduled to perform there at a later date. Tickets were difficult to get, but Joe walked up to a Coliseum ticket window. The man at the window said, “Well, I do have two tickets, but no one wants them. They think they’re bad seats, but Billy Joel rotates his stage so everyone gets a great view.”

Without hesitation, Joe bought them. The concert was amazing; I felt like I was 18 again, attending one of the best parties of the year. And the seats that nobody wanted turned out to be great.

When Joel started his monthly shows at the Garden in 2014, I was a little sad. My husband had passed away a few years earlier, and I knew if he were still here, he would have gotten us tickets again. But then on Christmas, my daughter Lauren surprised me with tickets. I was overjoyed and a little stunned. The concert was on the same day as Joe’s birthday, March 21.

It was Lauren’s first Billy Joel concert, and I was looking forward to witnessing her reaction to the Piano Man. She knew every song and sang along with the rest of us, the norm at a Joel concert. And then in the middle of a set, Billy started singing Beatles songs. Joe, a drummer all his life, thought the Beatles were the most talented, best group ever. He owned every Beatle album and knew every Beatle song. Playing in a band for most of his life, Joe always included a Beatles medley in his sets. So there we were on his birthday at a Billy Joel concert singing Beatles songs. It couldn’t get much better. My daughter and I looked at each other and smiled. We knew her dad was there with us, singing along.

Thanks, Billy, for all the memories.

Reader Jane Bavoso lives in Massapequa Park.