For Billy Joel, ‘12-12-12’ Sandy benefit hits home

Performing as part of 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief, wasn’t exactly part of his plans.

Billy Joel 370 (photo credit: Keith Bedford/Reuters)
Billy Joel 370
(photo credit: Keith Bedford/Reuters)
Billy Joel jokes about living out his own personal The Godfather: Part III. “Just when I thought I was out,” he said, chuckling, “they pull me back in.”
After all, Joel has been trying to lay low for a while, looking to stay out of the spotlight. Performing as part of 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief, which is shaping up to be the biggest music event in history with a potential worldwide audience of 2 billion people, wasn’t exactly part of his plans.
But Joel – like Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi and Kanye West and every other megastar on the massive list of performers at Wednesday night’s show – felt he had to do something, both for his fellow Long Islanders still struggling after the superstorm and for everyone else in the area.
“We’ve all seen terrible things out there,” said Joel.
“We all wanted to help. What can a musician do? This is what we do. We’re the second-responders.”
To hammer home these reminders of the superstorm’s destruction, Joel is considering reworking the lyrics to some of his songs. He already unveiled new lyrics to “Miami 2017” at the Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together telethon last month and those lyrics may change again.
He said he is also considering performing “Storm Front.” “It’s somewhat proper for the occasion,” Joel said. “But given the amount of time we have and that it isn’t one of my most recognizable songs, should we even play that song? We’re still working that out.”
Joel and his band have a lot to work out, considering they haven't all played together since March 2010. However, while many on the 12- 12-12 bill are artists currently on tour – including Springsteen, the Rolling Stones and The Who – Joel has the ability to focus on making his 30-minute set specifically fit the occasion.
Joel said he expects the 12-12-12 benefit to balance the entertainment factor with the need to deliver information about the tragedies caused by Sandy. “It has all the makings of a great show, the kind of show we haven’t seen since Woodstock,” he said. “I think we’ll all rise to the occasion.”