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Billy Joel Reveals What Cured His ‘Deep Depression’

Billy Joel
Larry Busacca, Getty Images

Billy Joel has struggled publicly with depression in recent years, but he says he’s made it through his latest dark spell with a renewed faith in humanity. And his salvation came from a somewhat unlikely source.

Reflecting on his emotional woes during a recent interview with the U.K.’s Telegraph, Joel traced his suffering to one of the bleakest days in recent U.S. history. “I was in New York on 9/11, and it had a devastating impact on me,” he recalled. “It hit me like a ton of bricks. I went into a deep depression and started drinking. I lost faith in humanity.”

It was only recently that Joel says he was turned around by the inspiring example set by Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teen who, as he put it, “was shot by the Taliban” and refused to be cowed. Instead, she published an autobiography and embarked on a worldwide press tour advocating for women’s education. “She is the antidote,” argued Joel. “We need people like that. I get inspired by people like that.”

But he remains devoutly uninspired when it comes to recording new music. “Just because I can put out albums and the record company would release them and people would buy them, that don’t mean I should,” he said. “I got bored writing popular music. I just got tired of writing in the same format — it can’t be too long, it’s got to be played on the radio. It’s a box, and after a while that box becomes a coffin.”

But he’s popping out of his coffin long enough to complete his first U.K. tour in seven years, with rumors of a fresh round of U.S. dates to follow. “I don’t sit around saying, ‘Gee I miss the adulation, I want the applause,’” Joel mused. “But what I do miss is making music with other musicians … I want to do these dates and see how it feels to get back in the saddle.”

Next: Top 10 Billy Joel Love Songs

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