“From a town known as Oyster Bay, Long Island Rode a boy with a six pack in his hand…”Ballad of Billy the Kid, Billy Joel 1974
On Saturday, two sons of Long Island and Oyster Bay crossed paths just a stone’s throw across the Long Island Sound. Megastar Billy Joel headlined the Greenwich Town Party in Greenwich, Connecticut, just after Henry Conlon played the “Town Stage” with his 4-piece band.
You can always come back home
Billy’s music featured prominently in the cassette player of the old F250 I shared growing up on Long Island with my brother Chris, Henry’s father. He was our own and would remain so until another suburban scribe from New Jersey read my mind as being Born to Run. (Full disclosure: I’ve come “home” and again reside part-time on The Island.)
I met Billy a number of times in the early 90s in and around Sag Harbor, and he graciously allowed his song “Downeaster Alexa” to be used in a theatrical production I was in, Bay Street Theatre’s “Men’s Lives’ by Joe Pintauro. He was as down to earth as you’d expect, and when I saw him perform recently at Madison Square Garden, his joy was infectious. The Piano Man still has it!
Billy Joel was born in the Bronx and grew up in Hicksville in the Township of Oyster Bay. He currently has his primary residence in the Center Island neighborhood of the same town. Henry Conlon’s mother Mariann Doherty Conlon and my brother spent their newlywed years in a home in Hicksville, and Henry attended primary school and grew up in and around Oyster Bay.
Billy and Henry were both athletes when younger, Billy as a Golden Gloves circuit boxer and Henry as a serious skier and crew competitor. Another common pursuit is boating, and I have to imagine they have been near each other more than once on the North Shore’s bays and harbors.
Henry Conlon headed South a few years ago and now calls Nashville home. He’s been playing out solo and with his band, both in Tennessee and on some limited tours. Henry’s second album, “Break My Heart” is currently in production.
At the Town Party on Saturday night Henry and the band played a lively, balanced set that mixed twang and rockers with the poignant memories of his new ballad “Flowers for Josephine”. As an actor and singer myself, I have to admit to some gushing uncle pride as I heard him giving his all at what he loves. From Oyster Bay to Greenwich by way of Nashville: Nice confluence!