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Billy Joel Salutes Garth Brooks at Songwriters Hall of Fame

Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Songwriters Hall of Fame(NEW YORK) -- The Songwriters Hall of Fame had its annual induction gala Thursday night in New York City, and the biggest name being honored was country superstar Garth Brooks.

On hand to help do the honors was Brooks' pal Billy Joel -- the two have been friends and shared stages several times, ever since Brooks scored a massive country hit with Joel's song "Shameless."

On the red carpet, Joel said, "Garth has an insight, because he writes himself, on how to interpret other people's songs...I'm a New Yorker.  He had a hit on country-western radio with 'Shameless.'  That's pretty cool!  I never even imagined that."

Speaking more generally, Joel said the Songwriters Hall of Fame, of which he is a member, is important because songwriters don't get the recognition they deserve.

"The toughest part of the job is the writing," he told reporters.  "You can go on American Idol and yell in key, Idol of America or whatever, but writing?  That's a whole other ball of wax.  There's a lot of craft, a lot of dedication, a lot of hard work, aggravation and frustration."

Brooks agreed, saying of songwriters, "A blank piece of paper [to them] is like holding a piece of meat in front of a dog.  They see a blank piece of paper and they see an opportunity to say something."

Other Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees Thursday night included Leon Russell; New Orleans pianist, composer and arranger Alan Toussaint, who wrote "Lady Marmalade" and "Southern Nights"; the team of Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, who wrote "Like a Virgin," "True Colors" and "I'll Stand By You"; and Tom Bettis, who wrote "Crazy for You," "Slow Hand," "Top of the World" and "Human Nature."

In addition, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, who wrote "You've Lost that Lovin' Feelin'," "Here You Come Again," "We Gotta Get Out of This Place," "Just Once" and many other songs, were honored with the prestigious Johnny Mercer Award.  Chaka Khan was also honored.

On hand to help celebrate the honorees were Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, Billy Medley of the Righteous Brothers, Boz Scaggs, Ashford & Simpson, and Sam Moore of Sam & Dave.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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