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 032 - Interpreting Billy Part 2 (with Hyung-ki Joo)

April 27th, 2021

What changes when other piano players perform Billy Joel’s music? What elements shine through? What’s it like to be tasked with performing music written by one of the most popular recording artists of the 20th century? 

 

This is the second installment of our two-part series where we talk with piano players who have been tasked with interpreting and performing Billy’s music. Previously, we spoke with Michael Cavanaugh, who led the pit band through hundreds of performances of the hit Broadway production Movin’ Out

 

This time, we’re speaking with Hyung-ki Joo, the classical pianist and comedian who arranged and performed the recordings on 2001’s Fantasies & Delusions

 

Join us, for the second installment of our two part series, where we dig deep into the music of Billy Joel with musicians who learned and interpreted these pieces.

 

Hyung-ki Joo - https://hyungkijoo.com

 

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EP 031 - Awards Show Appearances Part 1 + Conversation with Evan Toth

April 13th, 2021

Billy Joel is no stranger to awards shows and other accolades. Following 1977’s The Stranger, he’s won a handful of industry awards, was nominated for plenty more, and gave a few memorable — and in, one case, literally show stopping — performances. 

 

And, when you’re tracking award show appearances over three decades, you also start noticing trends and changes within the industry and its major players over the years. 

 

But before taking a look back, we have some exciting news for Billy Joel fans: The core of the classic Lords of 52nd Street band has reconvened to record with another East Coast piano player. 

 

This year, Evan Toth recorded his new album, The Show, at Richie Cannata’s Cove City Sound Studios on Long Island in Glen Cove. The record features Richie on sax and organ along with Russell Javors on guitar, Liberty Devitto on drums, and current Lords bass player Malcolm Gold. 

 

This marks the first time since 1981’s Songs In The Attic that Richie, Russell, and Lib have all been on the same album. So, we sat down with Evan to discuss his music and his experience recording with the Lords of 52nd Street. 

 

So before we dig deep into Billy Joel’s award show appearances, nominations, performances and awards from 1978 through 2013, we’ll find out more about what it was like getting the band back together.

 

Evan Toth: https://www.evantoth.com

 

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EP 030 - Interpreting Billy Part 1 (with Michael Cavanaugh)

March 30th, 2021

After 1993’s River of Dreams, fans waited and wondered if Billy Joel would ever release another pop album. The answer, as we know now, turned out to be no. But, nearly a decade after that release, we saw a new development for Billy’s music. 

 

The first years of the new century saw three new releases that featured Billy Joel’s music, but without him playing on two of them. In 2001, Sony Music released the two-disc Essential Billy Joel. 

 

But, in terms of new music, Billy also released Fantasies and Delusions that year. It premiered music that Billy had written in the style of 19th century romanticism. Then came the award-winning Broadway production Movin’ Out in 2002, which strung many of his hit songs into a loose dance-based narrative.  

 

The styles of these two projects are very different. But, they shared a common thread: Both featured other musicians interpreting Billy’s music. In Movin’ Out, Michael Cavanaugh led the pit band through hundreds of sold out shows. And, the Fantasies and Delusions recordings were arranged and performed by classical pianist Hyung-ki Joo. 

 

What changes when other piano players perform Billy’s music? What elements shine through? What’s it like to be tasked with performing music written by one of the most popular recording artists of the 20th century? 

 

In a special two-part series, we’re asking just that. And, we’re going right to the sources. This episode features a new interview with Michael Cavanaugh about his Broadway experience. And, stay tuned for the second installment featuring our conversation with Hyung-Ki Joo. 

 

Join us, as we dig deep into the music of Billy Joel, with two players who learned and interpreted the pieces.

 

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EP 029 - Album Retrospective: River of Dreams

March 16th, 2021

Billy Joel’s last album is a study in contrasts. It sounds like a new beginning, when it was really the end of an era. It alternated between gritty, angular rhythms and sweet, flowing melodies. It’s arguably one of his most divisive albums. Yet it earned him a handful of award nominations, a new generation of fans, 5 million in record sales in America alone, and a pair of songs that would become classics and mainstays in his live shows 

 

River of Dreams was released on August 10, 1993. It’s Billy’s 12th studio album, and the last pop record he’d release. He switched producers once again after Storm Front, and jettisoned the last of his classic lineup mid-way through the production to complete it. 

 

As a result, fans have mixed feelings about the record. But a close listen reveals lyrical and arrangement motifs that weave through the whole album. Put together, they form a narrative arc that starts with the frustrations and turmoil of everyday life, leads to a spiritual reawakening, and comes to rest with a peaceful reconciliation with the world and sense of optimism for what’s to come. 

 

Join us as we dig deep into River of Dreams.

 

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EP 028 - Year In Review: 1971

March 2nd, 2021

Apart from the botched release of Cold Spring Harbor, 1971 was a surprisingly low-key year for Billy Joel. His teenage band collapsed a few years before. And the proto-metal power duo that rose from its ashes failed to gain any traction. 

 

Broke, depressed, and aimless, Billy was ready to leave the music industry for good. And, he may have done just that, if his manager at the time didn’t come through with a last-minute deal. 

 

Of course, that deal would haunt Billy for years to come. After the album was released in November, he played a sparse handful of dates in New York at the end of the year. Meanwhile, there are no reviews, interviews, or press clippings to speak of. 

 

But look closely, and you’ll see a lot of small things develop, arrive, or otherwise get set in motion and affect his trajectory for decades to come. Join us as we dive deep into 1971.

 

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EP 027 - The Bridge Tour 1986-87

February 16th, 2021

It’s easy to overlook most of Billy Joel’s The Bridge Tour concert dates from 1986 and 1987. The shows, which spanned four continents, were in support of one of Billy’s arguably weakest albums. 

 

Meanwhile, these dates are eclipsed by the handful of landmark shows he played in the USSR at the tail end of the tour. 

 

But it turns out there’s enough going on to warrant a closer look. Perhaps most notably, we know now that these were the last dates to feature the core Lords of 52nd Street lineup. 

 

And, the shows featured sleek and subtle state-of-the-art stage and sound designs. 

 

There’s more than meets the eye with these mid-80s concerts. Join us as we dive deep into the Bridge tour from 1986 and 1987.

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EP 026 - Superfan Round Table #1

February 2nd, 2021

This may be the beginning of 2021, but this installment marks the end of our first 12 months of episodes. So, we decided to do something special for the occasion. 

 

We’re hosting a round table with some of the biggest Billy Joel fans we know. It’s an opportunity for us all to chat about the music we love. 

 

Our conversation uncovered new stories about Billy and the band that we’d never heard. And, we got a glimpse of just how fun and tight knit the fan community can be.

 

Our guests on this episode are:

 

Mike Stutz (Billy Joel Completely Retold)

Melissa & Teddy Boileau (Songs From The Attic radio show)

Matt DiMarino (Musician)

Billy Handy (Musician)

 

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EP 025 - Year In Review: 1976

January 19th, 2021

WIlliam Martin Joel had released three solo albums by the beginning of 1976. In many ways, however, that was the year he became the Billy we all know today. 

 

It was the year he recorded and released Turnstiles, finally winning his battle with CBS records to cut an album with his touring band. That band, of course, was now almost entirely the classic Lord of 52nd Street lineup. 

 

By then, Billy and his wife Elizabeth had moved from California back to New York. In the process he jettisoned any lingering west coast singer-songwriter stylings for East Coast grit. 

 

There were more changes behind the scenes, too. While not as well-known, these business moves and strategies played huge roles in his upcoming accomplishments.. 

 

True stardom wouldn’t come until the following year. But for now, we’re diving deep into 1976, and the 12 months that primed Billy Joel for the decades of success to come.

 

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EP 024 - Looking Forward & Looking Back (with Love Raptor & Bradshaw Leigh)

January 5th, 2021

We’re kicking off 2021 with a look back and a look forward at Billy Joel’s work, his fans, and the music industry in general. 

 

This episode features two sets of interviews. The first is with Mikhail Pivovarov and Billy Ruegger from the online music collective Love Raptor. We’ll go behind the scenes of their funk covers of “Movin’ Out” and “She’s Got A Way” and also talk about some of the latest trends when it comes to new musical artists today. 

 

Then, it’s the return of Bradshaw Leigh, the engineer who worked with Phil Ramone and Billy Joel on some of Billy’s biggest records. He’ll tell never-before-heard stories about the recording sessions and sheds new light on the famed trip to Russia in 1987. 

 

Join us as we dive deep into the past, present, and possibly the future of Billy Joel’s catalog.

 

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EP 023 - Phil Ramone (with Bradshaw Leigh & Russell Javors)

December 22nd, 2020

When it comes to Billy Joel’s most successful run of albums, you can’t talk about the man behind the piano without also talking about the man behind the board: Phil Ramone

 

By the time Phil and Billy teamed up, Ramone was already a renowned engineer and innovator in the recording studio. His discography included landmark albums by Stan Getz, Frank Sinatra, John Coltrane, Paul Simon and Elton John, along with soundtracks, musicals, and live recordings. 

 

Working primarily at  Ramone’s own A&R Recording in New York, Phil and Billy put out a string of best-selling and award-winning albums. Beginning with 1977’s The Stranger through The Bridge in 1986. 

 

After the one-off song “Why Should I Worry” from Disney’s “Oliver and Company,” in 1988, nearly two decades would pass before they worked together again. But, Ramone returned to the control room for All My Life, Billy’s last single, released in 2006. It was a fitting end to their partnership. 

 

In this episode, we’re exploring the life and work of Phil Ramone. We’ll talk about his work with Billy Joel, and so much more. Along the way, we’ll speak with Bradshaw Leigh, an engineer who worked alongside Ramone on many classic albums.  And, we have a special message from Russell Javors, Billy’s former guitarist and current member of the Lords of 52nd Street. 

 

There’s too much to cover in one episode. And we recommend reading Phil’s Book, Making Records, if you’d like to learn more. But for now, let’s dive deep into the works of Phil Ramone. 

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The Phil Ramone Orchestra for Children

Learn More & Donate at: http://Ramoneorchestra.org/support
 
or Text RAMONEKIDS to 44321

 

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