Billy Joel’s ‘Turn the lights back on’ welcomes new listeners and acts as a beautiful homage to long time fans 

Cover photo for "Turn the Lights Back On" Photo credits to Billy Joel

A decades-long career consisting of 12 pop albums, one classical album, an induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, six Grammy awards and a record-breaking residency at Madison Square Garden that will have its 150th show on July 25, 2024, Billy Joel’s resume is nothing to scoff at.

Billy Joel, the writer of past hits such as “Piano Man” and Uptown Girl,” released his first single in decades on Jan. 31, 2024, titled “Turn the Lights Back On.”  

After the release of the album River of Dreams in 1993, Joel continued to tour and play shows live but hasn’t released a new pop song since. In an interview with Vulture, Joel said “When I stopped writing songs, it was time. I couldn’t be as good as I wanted and that was driving me crazy.”

“Turn the Lights Back On” is a wonderful return to the songwriting world.

The song starts with piano and vocals saying “Please open the door / nothing is different / we’ve been here before.” This comes as a message to the listeners who have followed him for decades that he is still the writer he used to be and nothing has changed.

Joel goes on to sing “I’m late, but I’m here right now / though I used to be romantic / I forgot somehow / time can make you blind” ending the chorus with “but I see you now / as we’re laying in the darkness / did I wait too long to turn the lights back on.”

This line is very simple, but very well written, highlighting the internal struggle of a musician who fears they might fall out of relevance, but hopes that people will still listen to them.

The song was produced and co-written by Freddy Wexler, who is known for work with more modern pop artists such as Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber and Post Malone. 

Wexler’s ear seems perfectly compatible with Billy Joel’s writing style, keeping what makes a Billy Joel song interesting while making modern production choices to make the audio sound fresh and new.

The song builds to include drums, a string section and a piano solo that sounds incredible. After the piano solo, there is a reprise of the chorus that includes just vocals and piano untill a crescendo into the end of the song, repeating motifs such as “I’m here right now” and “looking for forgiveness.”

Billy Joel’s return with a new original song will surely find a place in the hearts of new and old listeners alike.

Joel will be playing his new song at the 2024 Grammys, ready to show the world that he will always be an influential figure in the world of music.

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