Billy Joel says he makes a conscious effort to avoid discussing politics in public because he sees himself as an entertainer, first and foremost, and doesn’t think it’s appropriate to tell people what to think.
“I try to stay out of politics,” the singer told Rolling Stone in an interview published Wednesday. “I am a private citizen and I have a right to believe in my own political point of view, but I try not to get up on a soapbox and tell people how to think.”
Mr. Joel said it’s a turnoff to be lectured about politics, especially at a concert.
“I’ve been to shows where people start haranguing the audience about what’s going on politically and I’m thinking, ‘You know, this isn’t why I came here,’” he said. “As a matter of fact, one of the biggest cheers of the night comes when we do “Piano Man” and I sing, ‘They know that it’s me that they’re coming to see to forget about life for a while,’ and the audience lets out this huge ‘ahhhh’ and I say, ‘OK, yeah, don’t forget that.’
“We’re more like court jesters than court philosophers,” he added.
“I’m still flabbergasted,” he said.
Mr. Joel avoided political endorsements during his long musical career until 2008, when he played a concert fundraiser for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. He echoed similar sentiments then, telling a National Press Club gathering that it’s “condescending” to preach politics at a music show.
“People who pay for your tickets, I don’t think they want to hear who you’re going to vote for and how you think they should vote,” he said at the time.
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