Listen, I’m not here to make light of 9/11. Being a New Yorker at my roots and having lived through it, I can say it was a horrendous, awful tragedy that cannot ever be understood fully by anyone who wasn’t there. That being said, I’m calling bullshit on Billy Joel, who’s saying that his multiple rehab stints, car accidents and drunk driving incidents since 2005 have nothing to do with the fact that he’s a raging alcoholic whose depression is exacerbated by his addiction, but… because of 9/11. Because, you know, it just took him four years to react to it.
From The New York Times:
A.G.: A decade ago, before you entered rehab, there was a period of two years in which you had three car accidents that involved hitting inanimate objects.
B.J.: The first accident, there was no booze involved. And I didn’t hit a tree. It’s these really dark roads back up here at night. The car went off the road and into a mud rut. I had gone through a breakup and was really broken up about it, and I decided I’m drinking too much. I should go to rehab. But people made a connection, like, “Oh, he went there because he was in a car accident from drinking.” No. The second accident was over here on the way out of town. It’s called Dead Man’s Curve, and it was black ice; that wasn’t drinking, either. The car slid and smashed into a tree. I went to rehab in ’05 because, when I was with Katie, she said, “You’re drinking way too much.” I never had a D.U.I. in my life. That’s another fallacy. Look at the police records.
A.G.: What was going on with you at the time?
B.J.: I was kind of in a mental fog, and it had nothing to do with the booze. My mind wasn’t right. I wasn’t focused. I went into a deep, deep depression after 9/11. 9/11 just knocked the wind out of me, and I don’t know even now if I’ve recovered from it. It really, really hurt that man could do that to man. And then there was a breakup with somebody, and it took me a while to get me back on my feet again.
A.G.: You know they have medication for that.
B.J.: Well, I used booze as medication.
I get that 9/11 was an event that most likely touched him deeply, and even caused severe depression. After all, I don’t know his life and he could have lost people close to him. And hell, even if he didn’t lose anyone, it’s a jarring experience that has left a lasting mark on everyone, New Yorkers or not. Also, mental health is fragile and someone prone to depression doesn’t need much of a trigger to go downhill. However, that does NOT excuse asshole behaviour like driving drunk (which, sorry, he’s still lying about not having done so) and putting other people’s lives at risk because you’re too f-cked up to care about your own.
Anyway, I hope he’s feeling better now. And hey, at least his music is still pretty solid.