NEW YORK – He's famous, loaded . . . and desperately lonely. Billy Joel is longing for love, but his past suggests he hits the wrong romantic notes -- and it's time to change his tune, say shrinks.
"I want what everybody else wants: to love and be loved, and to have a family," he recently said in a high-profile interview in the Sunday Times magazine.
"Being in love has always been the most important thing in my life."
Which is all very well, but it's not enough, says Bonnie Eaker Weil, a psychotherapist and author of Make Up, Don't Break Up.
"I see people like him all the time," sighs Weil.
"They can't sustain a relationship . . . When a person starts to love them, they move away -- they distance themselves, provoke and alienate.
"Billy Joel yearns for love," Weil declares, "but he doesn't know how to stay in love."
As most of the world knows, Joel's been married twice -- to Elizabeth Weber, the brunette music manager for whom he wrote "Just the Way You Are," and to the perennially perky Christie Brinkley.
Not only are he and Brinkley still close - they have a 16-year-old daughter, Alexa -- but she fixed him up with one of his latest ex-girlfriends, Long Island TV newscaster Trish Bergin.
There's still hope for him though, says Weil.
"Anyone who writes such beautiful love songs can definitely find love," she says. "He just needs to take the risk of being rejected first, and to put the time and energy into his next relationship."
To that end, Joel is planning a move from East Hampton (where he's been renting ever since selling his mansion to Jerry Seinfeld) to Manhattan -- just so he can meet women.
Good move, Weil says.
"He's not going to meet anyone in the Hamptons because it's mostly couples there," she says.
He should also steer clear of the booze, she says. The singer checked into rehab at Connecticut's Silver Hill Hospital in June, shortly after Bergin announced her engagement to someone else.
Actually, says Weil, it wouldn't be a bad idea for him to stay away from supermodels and newscasters altogether.
"Models are insecure because they think they're loved only for their looks, and newscasters are workaholics," she says. "He needs to find someone who's less invested in her career."
In fact, Weil just happens to have a few possibilities (plucked from her mental Rolodex) who might make the Piano Man sing again.
They include a 37-year-old dental hygienist ("funny, spunky, outgoing and home-centered"), a 6-foot-tall former model turned real-estate saleswoman ("she loves going out with men who are not tall and she's very down to earth") and a 42-year-old ad agency head who loves to travel (maybe she'll join Joel on his current tour with Elton John).
As an added incentive, she'll even throw in tickets to Joel's upcoming musical, Movin' Out.
"I've got four tickets -- we can double-date," she says.