Jumat, 07 Desember 2007

Billy Joel in Iraq State of Mind (E! Online)

Los Angeles (E! Online) - Billy Joel took on the Vietnam War in Goodnight Saigon. Now the Piano Man has emerged from semiretirement to tackle Iraq.

Sort of.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers latest single, Christmas in Fallujah, premiered Tuesday on iTunes Dec. 4.

But not only is the track pianoless, its also devoid of Joels vocals. Instead, the pop legend has passed singing duties to Cass Dillon, a 21-year-old upstart singer-songwriter from his native Long Island.

On his Website, Joel said the song was inspired by letters he received from soldiers who have taken solace in his tunes during their tours in the war-torn country. He combined their sentiments with his own impressions of the battle.

We came with the crusaders to save the Holy Land, goes one verse. Its Christmas in Fallujah, and no one gives a damn.

I thought it should be [sung by] somebody young, about a soldiers age, the 58-year-old Joel explained. I wanted to help somebody elses career. Ive had plenty of hits. Ive had plenty of airplay. Ive had my time in the sun. I think its time for somebody else, maybe, to benefit from my own experience.

Joel was first introduced to Dillon through Tommy Byrnes. Joels longtime guitarist and the musical consultant for the Broadway tuner Movin Out has served as a mentor to the younger musician.

Joel and Byrnes flew the newcomer--who has mostly played bars and coffee shops in his short career, often covering Joels hits--to San Francisco in October. The trio recorded Christmas in Fallujah on Nov. 11, Veterans Day.

I feel so honored and blessed to have this opportunity, Dillon said. When someone of that stature, with that history of great songs behind him with such a huge catalog asks you to sing something hes written, theres nothing you can do but be completely honored to perform.

Net proceeds generated from downloads of Christmas in Fallujah will be donated to Home for Our Troops, a nonprofit that builds specially adapted homes for severely disabled veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

In addition to Christmas in Fallujah, iTunes has also released a six-song EP of original Dillon compositions, A Good Thing Never Dies.

Although Joel hasnt released a studio album in the longest time, Christmas in Fallujah is the second tune hes written in the past year. He wrote and recorded All My Life as an anniversary present to his new wife, Katie Lee Joel. The track was released in February--his first pop single since 1993s River of Dreams album.

Meanwhile, the ivory tickler, who performed the National Anthem at the Super Bowl earlier this year, has also contributed a track to Five for Fighting frontman John Ondrasiks CD for the Troops, a free compilation produced exclusively for military personnel. Along with Fives hit 100 Years, the disc also includes Joels 1977 cut Scenes from an Italian Restaurant, Sarah McLachlans Wintersong, Josh Grobans February Song and the Frays How to Save a Life.

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