Billy Joel Hopes to Remember Anthem Lyrics

Billy Joel Hopes to Remember Anthem Lyrics
Billy Joel
Kevin Mazur/WireImage

updated 02/02/2007 at 03:00 PM EST

originally published 02/03/2007 06:00AM

While Prince will tackle the half-time show at Miami's Dolphin Stadium, Sunday's Super Bowl XLI will kick off with the National Anthem sung by Billy Joel – who calls it "a tough song."

"It's not the greatest song ever written," Joel, 57, told a group of reporters in Miami Beach this week, when asked how it is to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner. "What it represents is a terrific thing. But 'America The Beautiful' is actually a better song."

What makes the Frances Scott Key lyrics so tough, Joel explained, is that the anthem, "was written early in the 19th century, and that's the vernacular of the song. Nobody remembers the lyrics because they don't know what they mean. The melody is difficult, and everybody drops out in the high notes. It's kind of a slog, actually."

When asked what will be going through his mind just before the performance, he cracked: "Don't forget the words."

Still someone must have liked the way Joel sang it before, since this will actually be a Super Bowl encore for him. The Grammy-winning Piano Man's other delivery of the National Anthem was prior to 1989's Super Bowl, also in South Florida.

In fact, for a song that gives him problems, Joel sure seems to sing it a lot. "I did it at the Stanley Cup, I did it at the World Series, I did it at Super Bowl XXIII," he said, "so I'm kind of an old dinosaur doing this kind of thing."

By the way, asked whom he favors to win – the Chicago Bears or the Indianapolis Colts – Joel replied: "I have no idea. I was rooting for New York."

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