A remarkable thing happened in American culture last week. Pop music legend Billy Joel released his first new song in 17 years. And unlike most other “comeback” songs written by aging stars — The Beatles’s syrupy “Now and Then” from late last year comes to mind — “Turn the Lights Back On” is a revelatory piece of songcraft and a masterfully executed record.
While “Lights” features a number of Joel’s signature elements, including plain-spoken lyrical poignancy and rhythmically complex piano playing reminiscent of past hits such as “She’s Always a Woman,” the song is nonetheless vibrant and new. “Lights” is not the pitiable attempt of an aging artist to ape his younger self. In fact, it is so convincingly authentic that, upon first listen, I