Billy Joel to receive Gershwin Prize from Library of Congress

Billy Joel, seen performing at the Hollywood Bowl in May, will receive the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

The piano man. The entertainer. The stranger.

Billy Joel has called himself a lot of things over the course of his long career; now he can add “the winner” to the list.

The Library of Congress on Tuesday announced that Joel will receive the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, an award meant to honor “living musical artists whose lifetime contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with George and Ira Gershwin,” according to a statement from the library.

“Billy Joel is a storyteller of the highest order,” said James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress, in the statement. “There is an intimacy to his songwriting that bridges the gap between the listener and the worlds he shares through his music. When you listen to a Billy Joel song, you know about the people and the place and what happened there.”


Joel, who recently performed three sold-out concerts at the Hollywood Bowl, will receive the prize in Washington, D.C., in November.

In the statement, Joel said George Gershwin “has been a personal inspiration to me throughout my career. And the Library’s decision to include me among those songwriters who have been past recipients is a milestone for me.”

Previous winners of the Gershwin Prize include Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Carole King and the duo of composer Burt Bacharach and lyricist Hal David.

Twitter: @mikaelwood