Courtesy of Library of CongressBilly Joel was honored Monday night in New York City with a big award from the performing-rights organization ASCAP, and on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., he’ll be getting another one from the Library of Congress. But the Piano Man says he’s a bit confused by the sudden outpouring of accolades. “I’m 65 — I’m supposed to be irrelevant,” he tells USA Today.

“I’m starting to suspect that I have some kind of terminal disease,” he jokes to the paper. “They keep giving me all these awards, and I’m thinking, ‘Are you trying to tell me something I don’t know?’…I keep trying to have a dignified exit, and getting pulled back in.”

Joel’s claim of being irrelevant isn’t borne out by the facts, though: He’s been packing fans into New York’s Madison Square Garden once a month since January of this year, and there’s no end in sight — he just scheduled his 17th consecutive show there, for May 28. But the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer keeps putting himself down.

“I was a lot better when I was younger,” he says. “I could hit higher notes, run all over the place.” He adds, “If I think I suck, I’ll give it up.”

But that’s unlikely too. Billy recalls a recent conversation he had with his pal Bruce Springsteen. “We were saying, ‘How do we keep doing this?’ But it’s what we do. We’re lucky enough to have this job, the greatest that anybody could have,” he reveals.

One thing’s for sure, though: Despite his talent, Joel says if he was an artist coming up now, he’d never make it. He laughs, “I’d probably have to wear a G-string — and that’d be the end of that.”

Billy will receive the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize for Popular Song on Wednesday night. The event will be taped and air January 2 on PBS, and will feature tributes from the likes of John Mellencamp, Tony Bennett and Kevin Spacey.

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