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Billy Joel, 4 others receive Kennedy Center Honors

  • The recipients of the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors Billy Joel,from left, Martina Arroyo, Herbie Hancock, Shirley MacLaine, and Carlos Santana, give their applause during the Kennedy Center Honors Gala at the Kennedy Center in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Don Henley sang "She's Got a Way" and Garth Brooks sang a medley of "Only the Good Die Young," ''Allentown," and "Goodnight Saigon," joined by a choir of Vietnam veterans. Joel has explained he wrote "Saigon" because he wanted to write a song about the soldiers' experience.

Rufus Wainright sang "New York State of Mind" and led the audience in a finale of Joel's original hit, "Piano Man."

Joel said the honor stands apart from his six Grammys.

"This is different. It's our nation's capital," he told The Associated Press. "This is coming more from my country than just people who come to see me. It's a little overwhelming."

The 64-year-old musician born in the Bronx has been playing the piano since he was a boy, growing up on New York's Long Island. There was always music in the house, he said. His mother sang. His father played the piano.


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