Billy Joel’s second live album from 1987 portrayed the Russian part of his worldwide tour that year. He was there by invitation of Russia as part of Gorbachev’s glasnost policy. That word means transparency, and it meant both political and cultural openness: the gates to Russia should be open to, for instance, American rock stars. Joel was seen as safe enough to bring in.

Joel liked the tour, and thought of it a a historic occasion to meet people who were up to then closed for the world. In Leningrad he met and befriended the clown Viktor Razinov that was later the object of his song Leningrad: We never knew what friends we had, until we came to Leningrad. Joel didn’t like the recording of the concert though, and he wanted to stop it. He thought his voice was not good enough on it.

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