Since he's been a major draw for something like 200 years, Billy Joel has to be considered an elder statesman among American composers. Just listen to "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" a couple thousand times, if you haven't already. You'll see. The song has like 20 parts, and they all fit together perfectly; it's like going to see a movie.
Here's another cool factoid about Joel: Way back in 1970, he formed a two-man heavy metal outfit called Attila -- just distorted keyboards and a drummer. Attila's self-titled masterwork blows away Randy Holden, Lightning Bolt, and Hella.
Since those crazy days, with more comebacks than Iron Mike, Joel has reached that untouchable point where he can wear a goofy fedora on the cover of his new single, "All My Life" -- a smoky, sad jazz number straight out of the smoky jazz songbook. He can even release an album of classical piano compositions, which he did in 2001, and honestly -- it wasn't that awful. What's more, he can allegedly drunk-drive his Mercedes into a tree on New Year's Eve 2003, and it won't even be mentioned in Wikipedia. This is rarefied air Joel is breathing, a fact that bodes well for his current tour. Expect joyous renditions of pretty much everything off his greatest hits albums, absolutely no Attila songs, and a tear-jerking "Goodnight Saigon" for our boys overseas.