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Billy Joel finds songwriting 'torture'

finds writing songs “torture”.

The 74-year-old singer released ‘Turn the Lights Back On’, his first single in 17 years, last week and while he is set to do more writing, he isn’t looking forward to it because it is a “lonely” process, though he’s always proud of the result.

Asked about his process by Amanda Kloots and Alina Vission on the ‘Live! from the Red Carpet’ show at the Grammy Awards on Sunday (04.02.24), he said: “I’m going to go into my cave and become a caveman. It’s not a fun process for me — it’s very self-centred, very lonely. And sometimes it’s torture.

“But afterwards, I love having written.”

The ‘Piano Man’ hitmaker enjoys performing live but ultimately noted touring “can get a little tiresome too”.

He added: “I always wanted to be a teacher and I used to go around the country and do lectures about songwriting at colleges.”

When it comes to writing, Billy urged aspiring singers to draw on their own experiences and emotions to forge a genuine connection with their work.

He said: “You’ve got to go through things to write about things. Write what you know.”

The ‘Uptown Girl’ singer’s comments echo his recent remarks that he had lost the “fun” of writing songs.

Speaking with his co-writer Freddy Wexler on ‘Audacy Check In’, he said: “It was fun. Mu is fun. Rock n’ roll was fun. It was all about having fun — and I kind of lost that and I turned the lights off because it wasn’t fun anymore.”

Billy explained over the last 17 years, other people had encouraged him to get back into the studio but he “always resisted it”.

He added: “I studiously avoided it because songwriting had become painful. I have this high bar. I said to myself, ‘If I don’t reach that bar, I beat myself up and I punched myself and I hate myself.’ So, I stopped doing it because I got tired of feeling like that.”

But when he heard what Freddy was working on two years ago, his love for creating new mu began to return.

He said: “The melody, the chords, the chord progression, even the time signature was something that struck me immediately, and that’s how I relate to mu.

“This particular lyric in this song, I’ve had these thoughts, I could have written these lyrics verbatim. I’ve chewed on these words and I’ve thought of these words, and I’ve said these words before. It was all kind of falling into place — and who am I to fight that?”

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