Billy Joel’s silent statement spoke volumes during his concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Following more than a week dominated by headlines about white supremacists and neo-Nazis at the fatal rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and additional rallies in Boston and Berlin, the Piano Man took the stage Monday night donning a yellow Star of David.
According to amNewYork, Joel, who was born to Jewish parents, made a reference to the events when he said early in the show, “I ain’t gonna get into that [expletive].” He clarified, “I’m just going to play the same old songs because that’s my job.”
On Saturday, Aug. 12, people gathered for a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville that saw many individuals wearing Nazi paraphernalia and chanting Nazi slogans, including “Jews will not replace us.” A week later, another rally — dubbed the “Free Speech” rally — emerged in Boston, where attendees were met with thousands of counterprotesters. Also on Saturday, neo-Nazis and counterprotesters clashed in Berlin.
Joel’s yellow patch on Monday is a somewhat surprising move, given how he’s largely stayed away from publicized political commentary. “I try to stay out of politics,” Joel told Rolling Stone during an interview in June. “I am a private citizen and I have a right to believe in my own political point of view, but I try not to get up on a soapbox and tell people how to think. I’ve been to shows where people start haranguing the audience about what’s going on politically and I’m thinking, ‘You know, this isn’t why I came here.'”
Joel’s daughter Alexa Joel and ex-wife Christie Brinkley were in the audience at Madison Square Garden and praised the singer for his quiet action. “Now, THIS Is How You Do It. THAT’S MY POP!!! Proud Jewish New Yorker Through & Through!!!!! REPRESENT! STAND STRONG,” Alexa wrote on Instagram.
“And on the day of the Solar Eclipse a yellow star appeared on the jacket of another kind of star with a clinched fist that seemed to be gripping painful, no excruciating, memories of loved ones who wore that star to their death,” Brinkley wrote. “May that star also remind you today of the gold stars pinned to the jackets of soldiers for their bravery and valor for fighting an evil so hideous even the gold stars in the sky were afraid to shine.”
She added: “Thank you Billy for reminding people what was …so it may never ever be again. My darling @alexarayjoel another reason to be proud of your Pop.”