Billy Joel went back to school on Saturday (June 24), delivering the graduation speech to his alma mater, Hicksville High School on Long Island.
Joel advised the graduates to “pick a job you’ll like because if you pick a job you hate life’s going to suck. Find the thing you love and keeps you happy.” He also struck a political tone, saying that the graduation “is very heartening to me. It means this great country let your parents come in when they needed refuge. Fifty years ago the world was a mess, and I know it looks like a mess now and the world is always going to be a mess and you’ll try your hardest to make it better.”
Joel himself didn’t receive his diploma from the school until 1992; He was denied graduation years before because he missed an English final exam after playing a show the night before.
Joel plays his next monthly Madison Square Garden show on July 5, with stadium concerts in Cleveland and Minneapolis on July 14 and 28, respectively.
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.