You may be right. Billy Joel may be crazy. Or so it seems with his life and his concert Saturday night at Target Center.
Let us count the ways.
• He opened with the chords to "My Life," then segued into an instrumental version of "My Country Tis of Thee" (complete with red, white and blue lights) before returning to "My Life," which was more of a statement than an expression of attitude like in the old days.
• Was he feeling the pressure? He played the inaugural concert at Target Center in 1990, which he mentioned. By the time he got to "Pressure," his second song, he seemed like he was on Autopilot while his band was charging hard, trying to instill the franticness of the song, the lyrics and the crazy lights and blinking patterns on the giant video screens.
• Nah, he's just crazy. Because next he said, "thank you, Minneapolis" and dove into Prince's "1999" with Crystal Taliefero singing the lead vocals (Joel's voice isn't high enough anymore, he's more of a baritone).
• Joel has always been feisty, friendly and funny. And it took a little conversation to unveil all three qualities and get him to loosen up. He peered at himself on the Timberwolves scoreboard video screen and announced: "I look just like my dad. I didn't want to look like my dad. That's what happens." But it wasn't just self-deprecating humor. He used some throat spray that he said is called "The Entertainer's Secret." "I saw Madonna use it once," he said. "It didn't seem to help her much. She's an entertainer." He sprayed his throat and proclaimed: "I can dance a hell of a lot better now."
• A former boxer, Joel still loves sports. So he gave the fans a couple of "Fielder's Choices" — the option of choosing one song or another. When the nearly 20,000 fans favored "Downeaster Alexa" over "Summer Highland Falls" (which he said was about manic depression), he analyzed, "We're in the lakes. I didn't think you cared about saltwater stuff."
• Even though Joel saved "Piano Man," his breakthrough hit, until the last tune of the main set, he actually played the piano man all night, inserting snippets of other songs here and there. Somehow he sneaked a pinch of ZZ Top's "Tush" in the middle of "River of Dreams" and let a roadie named Chainsaw bellow AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" with Joel on guitar. The piano man even put on his harmonica rack and did a verse and chorus of Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" as an introduction to his own "Piano Man."
When he mentioned he'd last been in the Twin Cities with "that other piano guy," he broke into Elton John's "Your Song," imitating Sir Elton's voice. After Joel sang the lyric, "I don't have much money," he stopped and shouted an expletive. "You have plenty of money."
• So does Billy Joel. For the first time ever, he beat his beloved Beatles. Well, a Beatle. On the most money earned list. This month, Billboard determined that Joel ranked fourth in money earned in the United States in 2014, behind One Direction, Katy Perry and Justin Timberlake — and ahead of Sir Paul McCartney, who rated seventh.
• Earning $27.2 million is pretty impressive for someone who works only once a month. Since January 2014, Joel has been performing once a month at New York's Madison Square Garden. (Who needs a residency in Las Vegas? He has one in his hometown.) Last summer, he also added a few other gigs — Boston's Fenway Park, Chicago's Wrigley Field and Washington D.C.'s National Park.
• Joel brought piano popster Gavin DeGraw as an opener Saturday. He's a lot less expensive than Elton John. Never mind that DeGraw will return to Target Center two more times this year, opening for Shania Twain.
• When he puts his heart into it, Joel can still sing. He jumped into the choral doo-wop of "The Longest Time" like he was a teenager harmonizing on a street corner. He blushed when he proudly nailed the high note on "Innocent Man," which he'd warned in advance would be a challenge because he's 66, not 34 like when he recorded it.
• He showed all his facets on "New York State of Mind." The jazzy, bluesy piano (his Ray Charles influence, complete with sunglasses), the Charles-like phrasing and even some Frank Sinatra-inspired phrasing, the jazzy saxophone (by Mark Rivera), the hammyness and the patriotism (a shot of the Statue of Liberty was shown on video screens at song's end).
• Joel was not very physical or physically active in his 2¼-hour performance, as he has been in the spunky past. His face wasn't particularly animated either, though he was clearly in good spirits. He sat on a piano stool for most of the night (the piano was on a revolving platform), standing only for "We Didn't Start the Fire," "Uptown Girl" and a comically animated "It's Still Rock 'n' Roll To Me," about being out of fashion. Ah, he's never been fashionable or hip — and the double hip replacements he received in 2010 didn't help. But it's still rock 'n' roll to his faithful.
• Target Center was jam packed, with seats surrounding the entire stage. Joel came close to setting a concert attendance record for the Timberwolves arena. Not bad for an artist who hasn't released an album of new music since Bill Clinton's first year in the White House. That was 1993. "I got nothing new," he said. "Same old [expletive]. But there's a lot of it."
• Joel is his own best critic. During the show, he gave a running commentary about his songs. What album they were from, who inspired the song, how he got divorced anyway after writing a song about that woman, etc. Before he played "The Entertainer," he advised: "Listen to the lyrics and see what an idiot I was when I wrote this song."
• Idiot — no. Crazy — yes.