Elton John, Billy Joel

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Elton John's M.O. is clearly tough love. But Billy Joel's? Just love love. At least, that's what he wants us to think.

The Piano Man has finally gotten around to issuing a more substantial comment on the character assassination lobbed against him by his longtime pal and former touring partner last week.

So what did he have to say to John's accusations that he was an alcoholic whose career was coasting on "fear" and "laziness" and who needed to get into rehab?

No, it wasn't, "With friends like these…" Though it would be understandable if it had been.

Instead, the 61-year-old singer has issued a four-point statement to E! News, answering most every point made by John in his headline-grabbing Rolling Stone interview.

"1. I do not hate Elton John," he said, in response to his pal's claim that Joel would "hate me for saying this."

"2. I do not want to 'punch him in the face,'" He'll be so pleased to hear it!

"3. If he wants to call me, my number is still the same." Yeah, but who needs private phones when you've got press rounds to make!

"4. Good luck with the movie." That'd be Gnomeo and Juliet, which opens this weekend and for which John penned and sang the music.

Incidentally, while Joel seems to be publicly taking the higher road (or, depending on how you look at it, the road more covered in denial), it's worth noting that this is the second statement he's released about John's comments in the past week.

Which slightly undercuts the "I'm not bothered" air he's trying his best to give off.

"I've enjoyed our relationship too much to let something as random as these comments change my affection for him," he said immediately after the comments first made news. "Elton is just being Elton."

And Billy is just covering all his bases.

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