Billy Joel was honored with the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in a star-studded celebration that aired Friday night on PBS, and among the tribute’s many highlights was host Kevin Spacey accompanying Joel on “Piano Man,” with the House of Cards actor showing off his impressive harmonica skills. Spacey also handled the song’s opening verses during the all-star finale.
Joel himself performed four songs at his tribute show, which took place November 19th at Washington D.C.’s DAR Hall. Joel’s short set featured hits “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Down on Broadway),” “Vienna,” “You May Be Right” and “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song).”
Other artists on hand to honor Joel were John Mellencamp, who performed an acoustic rendition of “Allentown,” Josh Groban (“She’s Always a Women”), LeAnn Rimes, Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines, Boyz II Men (“The Longest Time”), Gavin DeGraw, the Twyla Tharp dancers (some numbers from the Movin’ Out Broadway show) and Tony Bennett, who delivered a resounding version of “New York State of Mind.”
“The great composer, George Gershwin, has been a personal inspiration to me throughout my career,” Joel previously said in a statement. “And the Library’s decision to include me among those songwriters who have been past recipients is a milestone for me.” Past recipients of the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize include inaugural awardee Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Carly Simon and the songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
In other Joel news, at the Glass Houses singer’s New Year’s Eve concert at Orlando, Florida’s Amway Arena, Joel once again paid tribute to the late Joe Cocker – as he had in recent months as Cocker’s health declined – with a performance of Cocker’s version of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends.”