Billy Joel: ‘There are no good Nazis. There are no good Ku Klux Klan people’

MSG Celebrates Billy Joel 100th Lifetime Show

If you’ve ever been a Billy Joel fan or even had a passing interest in Billy Joel’s music or person, I suggest you read this excellent interview with him at Vulture. It’s a long piece, so you should wait until you have 20 minutes to really enjoy his stories and thoughts about the music industry, about songwriting and touring and when (or if) he’ll ever retire. He talks at length about Bruce Springsteen and the comparisons that are made between them, one a working-class kid from Long Island and one a working-class kid from New Jersey. There’s a conversation about authenticity and politics, and then Billy Joel is asked about why he chose to wear his Star of David necklace right after neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville last year. Some highlights:

Why he wore the Star of David: “Wearing the Star of David wasn’t about politics. To me, what happened in Charlottesville was like war. When Trump said there were good people on both sides — there are no good Nazis. There are no good Ku Klux Klan people. Don’t equivocate that sh-t. I think about my old man: Most of his family was murdered in Auschwitz. He was able to get out but then got drafted and went in the U.S. Army. He risked his life in Europe to defeat Nazism. A lot of men from his generation did the same thing. So when those guys see punks walking around with swastikas, how do they keep from taking a baseball bat and bashing those crypto-Nazis over the head? Those creeps are going to march through the streets of my country? Uh-uh. I was personally offended. That’s why I wore that yellow star. I had to do something, and I didn’t think speaking about it was going to be as impactful.

He’s a WWII-history buff, and this is what he thinks of the current political state: “You can probably look at every generation and find terrible things were happening. But right now I can specifically look to our leader and blame it on him. We have a terrible president. We have a terrible administration. Politically, I’m not happy where our country is. These children are being ripped away from their parents and then the U.S. can’t find them? This is insane. This is the antithesis of America. I think we’ll look back in shame on what’s happening at the border right now. It’s like when they rounded up the Japanese and threw ‘em in camps during the war. It’s a disgrace.

Whether artists & non-artists should stand up: “Whether it’s me or Bruce or anyone, the patriotic thing is to stand up for your beliefs. I mean, I’m doing a fundraiser for [Andrew] Cuomo. I get crap for that already, people saying I’m a Long Island libtard. I don’t know; it seems like everybody’s conservative nowadays. When I was a teenager, we were all protesting the war and now everybody is right wing. What happened?

[From Vulture]

The Vulture interviewer assumes that Billy doesn’t talk about politics that much, but I’ve always considered him a pretty political artist – his music is political (or it used to be), and he’s long been involved with Democratic Party fundraisers and such. Granted, he doesn’t give interview after interview about politics, which makes this one special! I honestly didn’t know many people in his family were killed in Auschwitz, nor did I know his dad fought in WWII. And now Nazis have tiki torches and polo shirts and they hide behind “economic anxiety” and Pepe the frog. What a country.

Billy Joel plays Aviva Stadium

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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33 Responses to “Billy Joel: ‘There are no good Nazis. There are no good Ku Klux Klan people’”

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  1. Slowsnow says:

    Thank you sir.

    • Really? says:

      About time someone said it. This “both sides” nonsense from this administration is ridiculous. About as ridiculous as this administration treating children like livestock.

    • Stubbylove says:

      Love him – keeps it real.

  2. minx says:

    Yes, Billy, thanks. It’s sad that he has to say something so obvious, but here we are.

    • Aims says:

      My thoughts as well. It seems idiotic to even have to say that. There is no good people in hate groups and they should never get attention or legitimacy, EVER! There’s no grey area either.

  3. Jane says:

    I Love Billy. His music has always been and will always be LEGENDARY.

  4. Feebee says:

    You’re right, he doesn’t spout off all the time and so this as some punch to it. I look forward to reading the whole piece and seeing him in concert again in a couple of months.

  5. Mc says:

    But if Dear Leader says the nazis are fine people, then they must be. Ugh.

    Did anyone see that Eric Church spoke out against the NRA? I’m not a huge country fan but I always like him because he seems authentic. It warms my heart that musicians are speaking out even though they risk losing fans.

    • Mellie says:

      I did see that this morning and now he’s getting roasted by some….poor guy, I hope it doesn’t hurt his career b/c you know, country music fans are often times more of a right leaning political stance. Maybe I’ll buy one of his CD’s on Amazon just to help him out :)

    • holly hobby says:

      I think country music fans must realize that if they support this administration and Communist shill, NRA, they are basically turning their backs on the country. Sorry you can have your freedom and a despot ruling this country.

      It’s country over personal beliefs now.

  6. TheHufflepuffLizLemon says:

    Piano Man speaking the realness. ❤️❤️❤️

  7. Benise Donahue says:

    Sing us a song, Piano Man!

  8. Sparkly says:

    Wonderful! We need all the people saying this, loudly.

  9. Susanne says:

    Just want to comment that your writing this morning has been sharp perfection. Appreciate it. You guys rock.

  10. Betsy says:

    I didn’t know he was Jewish.

    I know people love to hate on his music, but I’ve always liked it.

    • Aren says:

      My thoughts exactly, on both things.
      He’s a very talented musician, but underappreciated for some reason I’ll never understand.

      • Betsy says:

        He’s popular. Seriously. People sometimes love to hate that which is popular (see also Taylor Swift). I think it gives boring people a little lift to feel like they!re not common like the rest of us.

        (And no, no one has to like Joel or Swift, I’m talking about the people who will let you know that their tastes are way too esoteric and high faluting to be swayed by the likes of them).

  11. Natalia says:

    I’ve never been a super huge fan of Billy Joel though I like his music, but this is SPOT ON. Thank you sir. Totally insightful and accurate.

    We can only wish that those WWII vets would take a baseball bat to those vile young punks!

    And yes to his ending statement: WTF happened??

  12. Case says:

    Goodness gracious, THANK YOU.

  13. SandWitch says:

    I like Billy Joel. His last statement; yes! What the hell has happened? I live in a town with an older population (60+) and they love bragging about their protests and marches. Now they’re “patriotic” ‘muricans with their confederate flags. What?? I guess they never did have any real character or spine. Just follow along with the loudest, attention getting group. They should be ashamed.

    • holly hobby says:

      You’re comparing people growing up during the Vietnam War era vs. WWII/depression survivors. It’s not by accident that the people growing up during WWII are dubbed “the greatest generation ever.”

      I’m assuming those faux liberal/neo conservatives from that generation are just a bunch of entitled brats.

  14. DragonWise says:

    I’m so happy that finally an older, privileged white man expresses an opinion that isn’t total trash! I swear, I read articles about privileged white men whose work I admire with a clenched stomach nowadays, waiting for the flaming garbage statement on Me Too or trashing BLM. Whoo! I don’t have to cancel Billy Joel!

  15. C-Shell says:

    Billy Joel music got me through college and law school — I’ll always love it. The Vulture article was wonderful! I’ll carry that normalcy through this day at least.

  16. Starryfish29 says:

    It’s absurd that we live in a world where this is something anyone would even have to declare.

  17. VegasSchmegas says:

    Growing up on Long Island, Billy was a God. Still is….

  18. Bettyrose says:

    He’s a brilliant artist. I’ve always loved his music. I’ve never thought of it as being political the way Springsteen & Mellancamp are, but I cried when I saw him wearing the yellow Star of David in protest. It was a powerful statement.

  19. Aud says:

    God, you are so on point with the “economic anxiety” excuse. At this point, there’s simply no excuse to be a Republican. You aren’t fooling anyone with your “fiscal conservative” mask.

  20. holly hobby says:

    So how’s the destructive tariffs working on those Trumpsters’ economic anxieties now?

    Love Billy Joel. I grew up with his music. I loved the earlier work as opposed to the 80′s ones (We Didn’t Start the Fire has a point but that song drove me crazy. It was one big salad of events).

    You keep telling the truth Billy!

  21. Electric Tuba says:

    If that’s what it’s all about
    If that’s what it’s alll about
    Honey if that’s moving up then I’m mooooving OUT

    If you spend even five minutes on Long Island you gotta love Billy lol ❤️

    But for real, those tariffs and the new tax laws for online retailers are going to ruin a lot of small business and then where do those employees and small owners find new jobs? Time to drag that fat piece of crap out by his orange combover

  22. Sansa says:

    Really sick of hearing Trump supporters saying the Confederate flag is ‘part of our history’ and thus it’s fine to fly it. Should Germany fly the Nazi flag because it was part of their history? But according to the trolls ‘it’s not the same’. Good for Billy.

  23. D says:

    Amen Billy

  24. Rebecca says:

    What did happen to all the people who protested in the 60′s? Why did so many become conservative when they got older? When you get older you can’t ignore death right? It’s right around the corner. When people get older does a fear of death cause them to turn back to religion and become fundamentalist ? Is that what causes people to become more judgmental and conservative in their politics as they age?