Billy Joel took a big risk in March 1980 by following blockbusters The Stranger and 52nd Street with the surprisingly stripped down garage rock arrangements of Glass Houses. But lest you get the wrong idea, it was the approach that was lean, not the material. Some of his best songs are here, including “You May Be Right”,”Sometimes a Fantasy”,”Don’t Ask Me Why”, “Close to the Borderline”, the under-appreciated“All for Leyna“, and the timeless “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me”. In a rare conversation, Billy and I sound like two guys outside sitting on the stoop recalling his favorite old Rolling Stones licks; seeing the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show, British Invasion bands that followed, garage rock, and the New York City punk scene that influenced his approach on the 1980 Glass Houses album; how “playing it again, Sam” is boring; New York baseball(he was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan until they moved to L.A. in 1958, when he switched to the Yankees); Harley Sportsters; getting T-boned while riding said motorcycle and almost losing his hands; and why having your brother-in-law manage you only works in The Godfather movies.
Find out why Glass Houses has sold over ten million copies, stayed at #1 for six consecutive weeks thirty-five years ago, was the 4th-best seller for the entire year 1980, and won Billy a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. And Joel’s current administration as the unofficial musical mayor of New York City shows no sign of term limits any time soon. -Redbeard