Glass Houses - A Billy Joel Podcast

Join lifelong Billy Joel fans, Michael and Jack, as they take deep dives in to Billy’s history, songs, albums, tours, band members and more.

EP 060 - MTV Night School 1982

May 24th, 2022

Years before Billy Joel started doing master classes, and long before MTV stopped showing music videos, there was Night School. 

 

Broadcast in late 1982, Night School was a half-hour show on MTV where Billy fielded questions from an audience of young fans. Fresh off the success of The Nylon Curtain, he tells stories, gives some behind-the-scenes glimpses of the music industry and, of course, plays      piano. 

 

The program turned out to be a one-off event. There was never a second episode or another version with a different host or musician. At the time, MTV was a new and untested concept, and Night School is a relic of when the channel was at its most daring and experimental. 

 

The show is a diamond in the rough for Billy Joel fans. It’s currently only available on YouTube and it doesn’t get much mention in fan forums, biographies, or any official publications. 

 

But, it features Billy in a great mood, cracking jokes and telling stories he’d refine and rehash for later interviews. It’s a rare, candid insight to the artist, in between the release of his most artistically ambitious album and just before the lighter, more pop-oriented An Innocent Man would launch him into the next level of superstardom with a new generation of fans. 

 

Join us as we dig deep into Billy Joel’s MTV Night School from 1982. 

 

 

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EP 059 - Video Retrospective: The Video Album Volume I

May 10th, 2022

Billy Joel may not be the first artist that comes to mind when you think of MTV. But, he was making music videos before the landmark cable channel got its start in 1981. 

 

A close look at those videos reveals the progression of the medium as it became more popular, more stylized, and more important as the decade went on. 

 

A handful of those videos were released on home video in 1986 as Billy Joel: The Video Album Volume 1 and 2.

 

The first volume features 10 videos covering songs from 1973’s Piano Man through The Bridge album in 1986. 

 

And, they run the gamut from pre-MTV promotional videos and bare-bones performances of hit songs, to surreal and conceptual visual re-imaginings of Billy’s songs. 

 

There’s a lot to unpack as different directors put their stamp on various eras of Billy’s music. We get behind-the-scenes glimpses of the musicians and close readings of their performances. And, different angles on classic songs. 

 

Join us, as we dig deep into Billy Joel: The Video Album Volume I.


Watch the music videos featured on The Video Album Volume I.

Music Videos:

  • Piano Man
  • All For Leyna
  • Tell Her About It
  • Honesty
  • Sometimes a Fantasy
  • The Night Is Still Young
  • Pressure
  • Stiletto / My Life
  • Keeping The Faith
  • A Matter of Trust

 

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EP 058 - Year In Review: 1969

April 26th, 2022

1969 should have been the year Billy Joel broke through. Today, we know it would be another few years before his solo career began, and a few more after that until things really took off. 

 

Instead, the end of the decade saw his longtime band put out a second album that went nowhere. Then, the duo he formed after barely got off the ground. 

 

It must have felt like an anticlimactic end to a decade that saw Billy’s career gaining momentum over the previous five years. Especially without the knowledge of what was ahead. 

 

Now, in hindsight, 1969 holds few clues to Billy’s work in the decades to come. Apart from a few interesting press clips and a couple notable encounters, there’s not much on the record. 

 

We may get more information on this part of Billy Joel’s history in the form of a new biopic that’s now in pre-production. But for now, 1969 feels like a footnote at the beginning of the big story we all know today. 

 

Join us, as we dig into Billy Joel in 1969, and the news of a movie that may explore that period even further. 

 

 

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EP 057 - Concert Classics: Kirin Dry Gigs ’88 - Tokyo, Japan

April 12th, 2022

With the appearance of the Kirin Dry Gigs from 1988 appearing on YouTube earlier this year, a long-lost footnote in Billy Joel history has finally resurfaced. 

 

This one-off gig in Japan finds Billy performing with just one member of his longtime touring band. They’re joined by players who performed on other tours in the 80s, musicians who would go on to tour with Billy in support of Storm Front, and a few guests who would only share the stage this one time. 

 

That combination of musicians makes BIlly’s only major concert appearance from this year a unique and intriguing listen. The arrangements stay close to the Bridge tour and Russia shows, but streamline in places and stray in others. 

 

And, the discerning ear may even notice a mistake or two from the temporary ensemble. 

 

Join us, as we dig deep into BIlly’s show at the Tokyo Domein Japan on July 24, 1988.

 

Date: July 14, 1988
City/Country: Tokyo, Japan
Venue: Tokyo Dome
Event/Festival: Kirin Dry Gigs '88

 

The band:

  • Billy Joel - Vocals, Piano, Keyboards, Guitar
  • Liberty DeVitto - Drums
  • David Lebolt - Keyboards
  • Schuyler Deale - Bass
  • Peter Hewlett - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
  • John McCurry - Lead Guitar
  • Eric Bazilian - Saxophone

 

The Setlist: 

  1. A Matter of Trust
  2. Pressure
  3. Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)
  4. Honesty
  5. The Stranger
  6. An Innocent Man
  7. Big Man On Mulberry Street
  8. Only The Good Die Young
  9. It's Still Rock And Roll To Me
  10. You May Be Right
  11. Big Shot
  12. My Life
  13. Keeping The Fatih
  14. Back In The U.S.S.R.
  15. I Saw Her Standing There

 

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EP 056 - Reimagining The Nylon Curtain with Johnny Lied

March 29th, 2022

The Covid-19 pandemic and quarantines of 2020 caused disruptions in the music industry that we’re still feeling a few years later. But while we’re fortunate that the lack of live music will fade into memory, the releases of quarantine albums may very well add up to an interesting reflection of these unprecedented times. 

 

With no opportunities to tour and limits on how and when musicians could gather to write and record songs, many artists created and recorded music in isolation. Or collaborated remotely to produce new music. 

 

One of those projects was Johnny Lied, a collaboration between two longtime friends. Jon Herchert, a veteran Minnesota musician and accomplished producer John Fields used their time in 2020 to reimagine classic albums. 

 

Their second effort was a full rearrangement and recording of Billy Joel’s The Nylon Curtain. The song-by-song remake stripped down Billy’s most meticulously-orchestrated album and built it back with entirely new instrumentation and perspective. 

 

The duo released a song a week with accompanying videos on YouTube. As the last track hit the internet, we sat down with Herchert and Fields to learn about why they chose this album, how they recorded separately from each other, and how they see the album as relevant to the world today. 

 

Along the way, we also talked about the state of the music industry today and got a glimpse of the Midwest rock scene. 

 

Join us as we dig deep into a unique reimagining of The Nylon Curtain.

 

Listen to / watch Johnny Lied's unique take on The Nylon Curtain.

 

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EP 055 - 2008 Tour, Walmart Vinyl, Billy Joel & Metallica Vegas Weekend

March 15th, 2022

2022 is turning out to be a big year for Billy Joel. Just by the end of February, fans enjoyed a unique weekend of music in a city where Billy doesn’t often play. And, new vinyl releases expanding on last year’s box set, include an album few fans have ever owned on vinyl before. 

 

We’re covering these events in this episode while also looking at a much quieter, often overlooked point in Billy’s career: his 2008 tour of Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.

 

By the end of the new century’s first decade. Billy’s career appeared to be winding down. It’d been seven years since his last release of new music, and 15 since his last pop album. And, his touring schedule was dwindling with fewer dates each year. 

 

Billy would hit the road again with Elton John in 2009. For this year, however, fans would only get a handful of television appearances and a run of tour dates on the other side of the world from his home on Long Island.

 

He’d still be years away from the Garden residency that fueled a renewed interest in his live performances and a critical reassessment of his place in pop culture history. For those keeping score 14 years ago,  it may have looked like his number was up. 

 

But, as we’ve seen just by the news this year, Billy still had a lot to offer. 

 

Join us, as we recap the last few weeks of Billy Joel news, and dig deep into his 2008 tour.

 

Michael's  Billy Joel Walmart Vinyl Unboxing Video

Michael's guest appearance on Metal Up Your Podcast

 

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EP 054 - Album Retrospective: Piano Man

March 1st, 2022

Billy Joel’s second solo album included his most iconic song. And the one that provided his breakthrough success and pointed the way for his post-West Coast work. But surrounding the title track and "Captain Jack" are the sounds of a songwriter still finding his way. Fortunately for us, that path is still pretty exciting. 

 

Released in 1973, Piano Man lays much of the blueprint for the hits to come. We hear great melodies, virtuosic piano playing, and a variety of styles. There’s also that flair for theatrical drama that earned him just as many comparisons to Great American Songbook-style writing as it did to rock and roll. 

 

But, there are also country and gospel elements that Joel would soon abandon. And, the lyrical and songwriting skills that would provide him with dozens of hit records later were still developing here. 

 

In fact, as we’ll learn, it was once slated to be his last album for a major label instead of the start of his ascent to global superstardom. 

 

Despite all this, Piano Man is a record filled with big hits, classic songs, and fan favorites. And, it was an important step toward the turns Billy’s career would take in just a few short years. 

 

Join us as we dig deep into Billy Joel’s major-label solo debut, Piano Man.

 

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EP 053 - Year In Review: 1997

February 15th, 2022

For Billy Joel, or at least his record label, 1997 seems to be a year of acknowledgement. It had been four years since his last album, and since then Billy had been telling anyone who’d listen that he was finished writing pop songs. 

 

Now, it seemed like Columbia Records was ready to accept that – on their terms, of course. 

 

1997 saw the release of Billy Joel: Greatest Hits Volume III and a companion VHS and DVD release of his music videos from the same era. Then came a box-set-style release of all three Greatest Hits editions. 

 

Meanwhile, Billy hit the press circuit to promote Volume III and the cover songs he recorded for it. Along the way, we get hints and clues to projects he’d develop early the next decade. And, in lieu of touring, fans got his VH1 “Behind The Music” and Storytellers episodes. 

 

All this pointed the way for how Billy would handle the next phase of his career. And how his record label would make the most of its assets. 

 

Join us as we dive deep into Billy Joel in 1997.

 

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EP 052 - In Conversation with Billy Joel Art Director Edward O’Dowd

February 1st, 2022

If you’ve gone to one of Billy Joel’s Madison Square Garden residency shows, saw one of his concerts near your hometown, or picked up any of his reissues or box sets over the past decade plus, then you’re familiar with the work of Edward O’Dowd. 

 

Since 2008, the graphic designer and art director has created the iconic logos Billy uses for tour dates, show announcements, and album covers. He’s responsible for the “live” logo where photos of Billy are in the letters of his name as well as tour books and the Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden logo. 

 

On record, he was instrumental in creating the Bridge to Russia cover and design as well as the Stranger and Piano Man box set concepts and designs. Most recently, he designed the booklet that accompanies the Vinyl Collection Volume One and carefully recreated each album’s original artwork and liner notes. 

 

For this episode, we spoke with Edward O’Dowd about how he came to work with Billy. And the stories behind both creating new imagery for Joel’s work and recreating the classics. 

 

O’Dowd tells us about the craft behind his work, the inspiration for the designs, and the state of the music industry in general. The conversation also celebrates the life of the late Jeff Schock, an important figure in Billy’s camp and with whom O’Dowd was close on both personal and professional levels. 

 

Join us, as we dive deep into the man behind Billy Joel’s newest t-shirts, album covers, tour books, and more. 

 

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EP 051 - Billy Joel Album Covers Ranked

January 18th, 2022

Whoever said, “You can’t judge a book by its cover” never had to design the front of a rock and roll album. Before the internet put all the music in the world at everyone’s fingertips, that front cover first served as a siren call to anyone browsing in a record store. 

 

Then, when you sat down and listened to the songs while checking out the artwork and liner notes, that image had to complement and enhance what you were hearing. 

 

The best album covers worked hand-in-hand with the music to bring each fan a full, exuberant, multi-sensory experience. The worst, well, the songs better be great. 

 

Billy Joel was no exception to this rule. And, like the songs underneath them, each album cover was distinctly different from the ones before and after it. 

 

For this episode, we’re diving only skin-deep into 15 of Billy’s albums. This time around, the subject is only their covers: Which ones were great, which ones were so-so, and which were flops. 

 

Join us as we rank the artwork of Billy Joel’s most significant records.

 

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