A cavalcade of stars, including Sting, Aerosmith, and Jersey’s prodigal sons Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi, appeared on a live television special on NBC last night to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy. The show was, as you might guess, a mostly somber affair, but Long Island native Billy Joel delivered the evening’s most memorable and emotionally resonant performance by going against the grain and rocking out.
Joel belted out “Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway),” which originally appeared on his 1976 album Turnstiles, an allegorical song in which an imagined natural disaster stood in for the very real (at the time) financial crisis that was affecting the city. In a strange twist of fate, the song now carries more emotional heft than ever, as New York City indeed saw the lights go down on Broadway over the course of the last week. Joel even amended the lyrics to the introductory verses of the song to fit the events of the last few days. “The storm went on beyond the Palisades, out in the Rockaways, the oceans overflowed,” Joel sang. “They shut our power down, Staten Island drowned, but we went right on with the show.”
The song, which Billy Joel described during a 9/11 benefit concert just over 10 years ago as a “science fiction song,” has always been about the unwavering resiliency of New Yorkers during crises, but most would agree that its words ring truer than ever today. Our hearty congratulations go out to Joel, a man who is not often seen performing in public these days, for giving the citizens of NYC an anthem around which everyone in the city can rally behind during a time of true need.