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It was released on November 2, , and has been included on several subsequent albums. Joel’s first major hit and his signature song, the song peaked at 25 on the Billboard Hot chart in April In , the Library of Congress selected “Piano Man” for preservation in the National Recording Registry for its “cultural, historic, or artistic significance. In a talk with The Actors Studio, Joel said that he had to get away from New York due to a conflict with his then recording company and hence lived in Los Angeles for three years with his first wife.
Billy Joel’s single Piano Man tells of the sad yet hopeful paradox of forgetting yet aspiring. The following stanzas tell a story of a few personages.
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He jokes often, albeit a bit ruefully, about other loves won and lost, sometimes referring to his wives a trio as Ex-One, Ex-Two and Ex-Three. Born in the Bronx and raised in the suburbs of Hicksville, he started studying piano at age four, following in the footsteps of his father, a classically-trained pianist. But he realized as a young teen that his musical career would follow a different path.
So Joel put the classical lessons behind him, and he soon found his footing playing popular piano music to receptive crowds. In fact, he dropped out of high school to help his mother pay the bills by playing piano in local bars, and the trajectory of his musical career has since led him through 33 top ten hits, six Grammy awards and sales of more than million records.
Joel is the first non-classical pianist to be immortalized in the Steinway Hall collection.
Which of the two verses of this song was edited in the single version? ~Ben.
It’s an awful confession to make, especially in a normally omniscient rag like this, but up until about nine months ago I was almost completely unaware of Billy Joel, apart from a dim recollection of his first album being released over here, and an old Rolling Stone article documenting his peculiar popularity in Philadelphia. So much for my preconceptions.
Regardless of what the twenty-first century schizoid men from NME may feel, Piano Man is a great album — so good, in fact, that I felt compelled to stir from my usual lethargy and investigate Mr Joel and his history further. The man’s recording career in fact began well before his solo career, as he played in a Long Island band called The Hassles , who did an album for UA in , and he then formed a duo with the drummer and released an album on Epic in under the slightly horrendous name of Attila.
Like most curio items, both of these have long since gone to the Great Bargain Bin in the Sky, so I’m afraid I can’t pass judgement on their quality, or lack of it. After these ill-fated ventures, Billy apparently decided on a solo career, and in joined Family Productions, a small L. Fear of legal repercussions or worse prevents the reproduction of Billy’s remarks about his continuing involvement with this organization, but it seems clear that his experiences should be a lesson to embryonic rock-stars on the folly of hasty signatures.
The album is produced by the ironically named Artie Ripp, while the other half of Family Productions, one Irwin Mazur, assumes the formidable sounding role of ‘Executive Producer and Artist Direction’. Mr Ripp, according to Eamon Frame, used to be with the Kama Sutra gang, and showered himself with glory producing people like the Critters in the mid-sixties, but unfortunately this experience doesn’t manifest itself too clearly, as the production is a bit muddy and uneven, and apparently in the process of transferring from tape to acetate a machine fault caused the music to come out a quarter tone higher than it had been recorded, which makes the vocals sound a little chirpy on occasion.
Several years later, in , he received the Kennedy Center Honors. Shortly after he was born, the family moved to a section of America’s famous “first suburb,” Levittown on Long Island. Although his father was an accomplished classical pianist, it was Joel’s mother who pushed the young boy to study piano. He began playing at the age of four and showed an immediate aptitude for the instrument. By the time he was 16, Billy Joel was already a pro, having joined his third band before he could drive.
Signed by Columbia Records in , Joel recorded Piano Man. Both the album and the single went gold soon after their release, while his third effort, Streetlife.
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Culture Trip stands with Black Lives Matter. Written in , this moody, psychedelic ballad tells the true story of a Long Island drug dealer and his teenage clientele, who turned to heroin to escape the boredom of suburbia. Even a complete Billy Joel novice would recognize this song from the first blows of a harmonica. The partially autobiographical ballad chronicles the experiences of a lounge singer as he performs in the same dive bar night after night, profiling patrons who dream of better lives and wondering how a performer like him could end up in such an establishment.
Legend surrounds this hit about a young man attempting to convince his girlfriend to have premarital sex.
The Piano Man hasn’t dropped a pop or rock album since , but he’s doing just fine with a string of sellouts at Madison Square Garden. This year marks the.
He was steered toward classical music by his parents and began piano lessons at age 4. At age 14, enamoured of the British Invasion and soul music , he began playing in bands. With the rock and blue-eyed soul group the Hassles, he recorded two albums in the late s, and a stint in the heavy metal duo Attila followed. In , recast as a singer-songwriter , Joel recorded the poorly produced Cold Spring Harbor for Family Productions, which locked him into an exploitative long-term contract.
Seeking refuge in Los Angeles , he performed under a pseudonym in a local piano bar. His first album for Columbia, Piano Man , featured a hit single of the same name; based on his piano bar experience, it became his signature song. Featuring four U. In the early s Joel was among the first established rock performers to make music videos. During that period he married supermodel Christie Brinkley the second of his four marriages.
It is the lead single from the album “Piano Man” from and has since been included on many of his other albums. It was actually his first single ever. The recording took place in September , in Los Angeles. Joel was the sole writer of the song and it was released as a 45 rpm single on the second of November,
Billy Joel’s songs, ranked: ‘Piano Man,’ ‘New York State of Mind,’ more Proceeds from the single went to a charity for veterans of the Iraq and.
Billy Joel is the closest thing Madison Square Garden has to a sure thing — certainly more than the Knicks or the Rangers or the Liberty. By the measure of hit-making, his stats are staggering. They used to beat him up for his perceived lack of edge. Lately, though — like every artist from a generation back — he is undergoing a critical reassessment, despite some dissenters.
I am in his camp. I grew up right off the Jersey Turnpike, halfway between Levittown and Allentown, during the years when he was on the radio every day. People who write paeans to the suburbs, on topics that sit on the cusp between white-collar and blue-collar, are unfashionable these days. But the ranking draws on 30 years of soaking in these songs, plus multiple repeat playings of every one over the past three months.
That said, appreciation does not mean blindness, and Joel himself would agree that not every song on every album catches fire though he did light it, and we tried to fight it. A close listening to the Joel-ian canon reveals a couple of generous handfuls of greatness, forgotten cuts that deserve to be resurfaced, familiar hits that have aged poorly, and flat-out clunkers.