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A long-ago encounter

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I'm not a Billy Joel fan.

Just never cared for his music.

But you wouldn't have ever heard me say a bad word about the guy.

About 35 years ago, very early in his career, he did a concert in the small city where I was finishing college and working for the little daily newspaper. I interviewed him after the remarkably high-energy show.

When we first sat down to visit, he commented that he was having a hard time catching his breath. He wasn't acting like he thought he was having a heart attack or anything. But he did seem genuinely baffled.

Apparently no one told him we were at 7,000 feet and the air was a bit thin. So I suggested that his shortness of breath was in all likelihood attributable to the altitude.

He seemed honestly grateful for this information.

I don't remember much about the interview. But he was likable, seemingly unaffected and generous with his time.

The encounter did not turn me into someone who purchased his albums. But It's funny how a favorable first impression lingers.

Years later, during his messy divorce from swimsuit model/alleged shrew Christie Brinkley, I found myself totally taking his side. And I wished I could have whispered something in his ear before he ever married her.

“Hey, Billy. The air's a bit thin up where you are. Think it over, man.”