Billy Joel’s depression wasn’t caused by alcoholism or relationship woes, even though he’s had problems with women and drinking. According to a May 26 report by The New York Times, the “Only the Good Die Young” singer blames 9/11 for making him feel down and out.
Over a period of two years, the singer was involved in three car accidents. However, he says that alcohol played no part in the accidents and points out that he’s never had a D.U.I. in his life. Instead he decided to go to rehab after his third wife Katie Lee told him that she thought he was drinking much. And according to Billy Joel, he was drinking too much because he “used booze as medication” to treat his depression. However, the star has had problems with depression for quite some time — when he was just 21, he tried to commit suicide by drinking furniture polish.
Here’s what he told Details about that experience: “I looked in my mother’s closet and there was bleach, and it had the skull and crossbones, and then there was furniture polish. And at the time I thought, Well, the furniture polish will probably taste better than the bleach, so I’ll drink the furniture polish. And all I ended up doing was farting furniture polish for a couple of days and polishing my mother’s chairs.”
And this is what the singer said about what sparked his latest struggle with depression: “I was kind of in a mental fog, and it had nothing to do with the booze. My mind wasn’t right. I wasn’t focused. I went into a deep, deep depression after 9/11. 9/11 just knocked the wind out of me, and I don’t know even now if I’ve recovered from it. It really, really hurt that man could do that to man. And then there was a breakup with somebody, and it took me a while to get me back on my feet again.”
According to Billy, he drank so much vodka that the smell of it makes him sick now. However, he hasn’t completely quit drinking — he just exercises self-control and has a glass of wine with a meal occasionally.
While Billy Joel was in a dark place for quite some time, he seems to be out of it now, and he definitely had some amusing things to say during his New York Times interview. The 64-year-old singer thinks that Keith Richards was mummified during the time of King Tut, and he dubbed Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, and Pete Townshend “rocking-chair rockers.” He’s not quite there yet, but Joel definitely can’t do back flips off his piano anymore — he’s had a double-hip replacement.
The singer also had some critical words for fellow piano man Elton John. John has criticized Joel for not taking rehab seriously and being too lazy to write new songs, but Joel claims that the outspoken star didn’t know anything about his private life. He also joked that Elton has “mom hair,” but he has no hard feelings toward the “Tiny Dancer” singer — he’d still work with him again (hopefully Elton hears about this).
Joel also talked about marrying beautiful women like supermodel Christie Brinkley, who was the inspiration for his song “Uptown Girl.” He said of his relationships, “I was married to some beautiful women. I always get compared to how beautiful they are and how not beautiful I am, and it’s kind of funny, it’s like ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ I don’t mind being the beast, I want them to be good-looking, and if they don’t mind me looking like me, why should I care?” At least he’s honest and isn’t saying that he was attracted to Brinkley’s brains and that he couldn’t have cared less about her incredible bikini body.
However, he must have really loved third wife Katie Lee — he agreed to appear on “Oprah” to help her promote her book, but of course the talk show host mainly wanted to focus on Joel’s drinking problem and his divorces. According to Billy, he looked so miserable that it made his daughter Alexa cry. Luckily for Oprah, Billy says that he’s a very forgiving guy.
The singer’s fiery spirit is obviously alive and well, and he seems to be in a good place now, so hopefully he decides to tour again. He’s afraid of being an oldies act that looks “crotchety” and “terrible,” but doesn’t a whole new generation need to learn the art of seducing Catholic girls through the words of “Only the Good Die Young?”