The Piano Man’s Triumphant Return to Music

“Turn the Lights Back On” was released on February 1, 2024, marking Joel’s newest song in decades.
Billy Joel stepped away from songwriting in 1993 with Famous Last Words being his swan song. However, The Entertainer felt it was time to turn the lights back on and return to songwriting. Photo from Slgkgc via Wikimedia Commons.
Billy Joel stepped away from songwriting in 1993 with “Famous Last Words” being his swan song. However, “The Entertainer” felt it was time to turn the lights back on and return to songwriting. Photo from Slgkgc via Wikimedia Commons.

A performer laid his magical hands on the keys of his piano, as the magnetic uproar of the crowd began singing along to his songs. Until one day in 1993.

The performer is none other than Billy “The Piano Man” Joel.

After turning away from songwriting for 30 years, Joel has come back to the limelight with a new single. 

The single is titled “Turn the Lights back on,” and was recently added to his discography on February 1, 2024.

Joel wrote the song with Freddy Wexler, Arthur Bacon, and Wayne Hector.

Despite not writing songs for 30 years, he hasn’t stopped touring around the world. His iconic residence at Madison Square Garden nears a stagggering 150 performances. (Bryce Keller)

The reason for his songwriting departure was due to him not thinking highly of his writing and only wanting to release a song if it was perfect. The joy in writing was absent for Joel for many years until Wexler came into his life.

“You cannot be Billy Joel and just be done,” remarked Wexler in an interview with the Grammys.

What began as a 10-minute lunch as a favor for a friend, turned into an unlikely friendship between the two. Wexler spent two relentless years trying to convince Joel to write songs again before Joel finally agreed.

Eventually, the two began working together and producing what became “Turn the Lights Back On.”

The song is a reflection of the artist’s regrets regarding his past romantic relationships and his career.

“I just put out a new record, is there a second chance here,” Joel stated on The Howard Stern Show.

After hearing it a few times, I’ve decided I really like it. I love the lyrics and the meaning behind it, but I also like the flow of the music. I feel like it stays true to Billy Joel’s style, but also brings in some newer or more updated sounds and combinations.

— Jillian Kohler, DHS Art Teacher

The song is especially beautiful with the lyrics and the melody being poignant and solemn. 

It is worth noting that the lyrics resonate greatly as they are more impactful given Joel’s decades-spanning departure.

Many have criticized that the song isn’t like his former greatest hits. However, I would argue that it is and deserves to be recognized on the same level as songs like “And So It Goes” and “Vienna.”

The only critique that I would have of the song is that it feels a tad bit overproduced and doesn’t completely evoke the sound of a Billy Joel song.

Despite not truly writing for years, Joel proved that he still has it and he delivered perfection in this newest single.

With the release of the single, it is unknown where Joel will go from here. Nonetheless, it is evident that he is embarking on a new chapter in his musical career.


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