Billy Joel Returns With “Turn the Lights Back On,” First New Song in 17 Years

Billy Joel is officially back. As promised, the Long Island singer-songwriter has released “Turn the Lights Back,” his first original song since 2007. Listen to the new song—produced by Freddy Wexler and co-written by Joel, Wexler, Arthur Bacon, and Wayne Hector—below.

Freddy Wexler is a prominent pop producer and songwriter. He’s worked on Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber’s “Stuck With U,” Bieber’s “2 Much,” Blackpink’s Born Pink song “Hard to Love,” Diana Ross’ 2021 Thank You track “Just in Case,” Laufey’s “Must Be Love,” Zayn’s Icarus Falls entry “Talk to Me,” Lil Wayne’s “Novacane,” and more.

“Turn the Lights Back On” is Billy Joel’s first new music since the twin 2007 songs “All My Life” and “Christmas in Fallujah.” The artist had signaled his retirement from original pop and rock music with “Famous Last Words,” the closing track on River of Dreams. He sings at the 1993 song’s end:

And these are the last words I have to say
It’s always hard to say goodbye
But now it’s time to put this book away
Ain’t that the story of my life

Joel opens his new song with some acknowledgment that it’s been a while since his last update: “Please, open the door/Nothing is different/We’ve been here before/Pacing these halls, trying to talk over the silence.” And, on the first chorus, he sings:

I’m late, but I’m here right now
Though I used to be romantic,
I forgot somehow
Time can make you blind
But I see you now,
As we’re laying in the darkness
Did I wait too long…
To turn the lights back on?

While he hasn’t released much rock or pop music since River of Dreams, Billy Joel released the classical music album Fantasies & Delusions in 2001. He’s also toured relentlessly and played a residency at New York’s Madison Square Garden that comes to an end later this year. In addition, Joel will perform at the 2024 Grammy Awards on Sunday, February 4.

Read Pitchfork’s Sunday Review of Billy Joel’s The Stranger.