“A song should be like a play – it should have a beginning, a middle and an end.”

“It should have an idea. State the idea and then build the idea and develop it and finish.”

“At the end, you should be at a place different than where you began.”

“Write for yourself … and if you do, you’ll be 90% ahead of everybody else.”

These are words from the brilliant lyricist Oscar Hammerstein to a young Stephen Sondheim.

And from Sondheim …

“Write something. Put it on. Write something. Put it on. Write something. Put it on.  You can’t always put it on – but that’s the only way to do it. That’s how everybody who’s ever been good, got good.”

An American iconic musician who lived that life of writing something and then performing it was honoured at the Kennedy Center – the tribute aired on Sunday night.  Billy Joel’s music is the new American Songbook – songs of life, of hope, despair and love.

Brendon Urie of Panic at the Disco kicked off the tribute with “Big Shot”, Don Henley shared the ballade “She’s Got a Way”, “Garth Brooks sang “Goodnight Saigon” and “Allentown”, Rufus Wainwright performed “New York State of Mind” and the classic “Piano Man”.

Kickin’ performers – singing classic Billy Joel for the master of the new American Songbook.


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