Billy Joel Book cover

AMS and Rock Hall Lecture Series with Joshua Duchan

Thursday, May 17, 2018 - 7:00pm

“Billy Joel and the American Musical Landscape”


Thursday, May 17th 7p.m. (Doors open at 6:30 p.m.)


Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Library and Archives, 2809 Woodland Ave, Cleveland OH 


This event is FREE with a reservation. To RSVP, visit


Duchan describes his talk as follows: "This lecture addresses two kinds of places found in Billy Joel’s songs, geographical (specifically the American West and New York) and social or cultural (suburbia). Material drawn from several personal interviews with the composer informs the analyses of representative works, illustrating their connections to broader traditions in American music, such as the use of Tin Pan Alley forms and jazz harmonies in 'New York State of Mind.' Moreover, one finds, in songs like 'No Man’s Land' (1993), that Joel’s work just as often illuminates the profound social and cultural changes affecting American life in the second half of the twentieth century. Thus, Joel’s music offers a commentary on American life and culture rooted in both his personal experience and the time during which it was composed.



The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the American Musicological Society lecture series consists of two events each year that feature members of the Society presenting engaging lectures on topics relevant to the mission of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the holdings of its Library and Archives.  The series brings scholarly work on rock and roll and popular music to a broader audience and showcases the musicological work of top scholars in the field.  For more information about these events, visit


Joshua S. Duchan, Ph.D., is an ethnomusicologist specializing in American popular music. He has authored two books, Powerful Voices: The Musical and Social World of Collegiate A Cappella (2012) and Billy Joel: America's Piano Man (2017), and several journal articles and book chapters. He has also presented his work at meetings of the American Musicological Society, the Society for American Music, the Society for Ethnomusicology, the International Council for Traditional Music, the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, the international Art of Record Production conference, and at various conferences on and festivals of a cappella music. He received his doctorate from the University of Michigan.

Dr. Duchan’s current research examines the music of American singer-songwriter Billy Joel. His recent book on the subject, Billy Joel: America's Piano Man, which draws on several interviews with the artist, has been called “a must-read analysis of the work of one our most popular performers” (Library Journal 6/1/17). As part of his research, Dr. Duchan was also the co-organizer of "'It's Still Rock and Roll to Me': The Music and Lyrics of Billy Joel -- a Public Musicology Conference," held in October 2016 at Colorado College with support from the American Musicological Society, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. The symposium, during which Dr. Duchan and co-organizer Ryan Bañagale conducted a live interview with Mr. Joel as the keynote event, was featured in the New York Times


Presently, Dr. Duchan serves as Associate Professor of Music and Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Music at Wayne State University, where he teaches courses in music history, world music, popular music, and ethnomusicology. Before joining the faculty at Wayne State University, he taught at Kalamazoo College and Bowling Green State University. Outside of teaching, he remains an active participant in the regional and national a cappella scene as an adjudicator, arranger, clinician, and producer.



The Rock Hall’s Library & Archives is located at 2809 Woodland Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio. The facility is at the corner of Woodland Avenue and East 30th Street, in a shared building with the Gill and Tommy LiPuma Center for Creative Arts of Tri-C. This is approximately two miles southeast of the Museum.


Free parking will be available in Lots 5 and 6 of the parking garage.  Metered parking spaces are also available on the street in front of the building or around the block.  Signage will be posted directing visitors to the event.