Thursday, June 28, 2012

Story Songs: Piano Man

Billy Joel rates as one of the best story-songwriters of his generation, especially with tunes such as "Allentown," "Goodnight Saigon," and "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)." 

For most fans, it all started with "Piano Man," his breakthrough hit in 1974 that is now his signature song.

I remember seeing Joel in concert at Eastern Kentucky University that year. He put on a great show. I also reviewed his album, "Piano Man," for the Eastern Progress, the student newspaper, and boldly predicted that he was America's answer to England's Elton John. Well, it seemed bold at the time! 

If you've been part of the lounge scene, or simply curious about what goes on, Joel captured it all in "Piano Man." It's somewhat autobiographical as he retells his experience working at a lounge in Los Angeles. The lounge is filled with assortment of characters who yearn or dream of a different life:

"And the waitress is practicing politics 
As the businessmen slowly get stoned 
Yes, they're sharing a drink they call loneliness 
But it's better than drinkin' alone" 

You can just imagine the stories that the piano man hears while he takes requests for songs, goes on a smoke break, or after his set.
"It's a pretty good crowd for a Saturday 
And the manager gives me a smile 
'Cause he knows that it's me they've been comin' to see 
To forget about life for a while"

I saw Joel in concert again a few years ago at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., during one of his tours with Elton John. It was another great show. 
And we all sang the chorus to this great song:
"Sing us a song you're the piano man 
Sing us a song tonight 
Well we're all in the mood for a melody 
And you got us feeling alright"

"Piano Man" lyrics



  1. Since you married a Mary, I'd like to see a commentary on songs with the name of Mary or songs dedicated to a Mary. Thanks!

  2. it really was bold to say Billy Joel was the answer to Elton John but you were right! :)
    thanks once again for giving me back some really good memories :)