Music legend Billy Joel to receive Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

Music legend Billy Joel to receive Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

Billy Joel, the 6th top-selling artist of all time and the 3rd top-selling solo artist of all time, has been announced to receive the prestigious Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

The news was announced by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington:

“Billy Joel is a storyteller of the highest order,” Billington said. “There is an intimacy to his songwriting that bridges the gap between the listener and the worlds he shares through music. When you listen to a Billy Joel song, you know about the people and the place and what happened there. And while there may be pain, despair and loss, there is ultimately a resilience to it that makes you want to go to these places again and again.

“Importantly, as with any good storyteller, the recognition experienced in a Billy Joel song is not simply because these are songs we have heard so many times, but because we see something of ourselves in them.”

Added Joel: “The great composer George Gershwin has been a personal inspiration to me throughout my career. And the Library’s decision to include me among those songwriters who have been past recipients is a milestone for me.”

Just a brief review of his Grammy wins demonstrates the depth and range of his talents: Song of the Year and Record of the Year (“Just the Way You Are,” 1978), Album of the Year (52nd Street, 1979); and Best Rock Vocal Performance Male twice in back-to-back years: 52nd Street (1979) and Glass Houses (1980).

Joel has been  a big idol of mine for decades.  Not only for his melodies, but as mentioned earlier – his storytelling.  As an actor, I was aware at a very early age of the character development and story arc his songs would portray.  The very singular, blue collar “voice” of his songs delivered environment, character and desire.

Bravo for a very well-deserved award, Billy.