This Friday’s song is “Piano Man”, Billy Joel‘s first single in North America which was released in November 1973. Teresa and I saw Joel perform at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida in 2009. It was a packed house. It was an incredible show. Joel played this song fairly late in the show. The entire place sang along with him. I remember thinking how incredible it must be that something you created has this kind of connection and staying power.
When the song was released, I was a sophomore in college at CW Post on Long Island. I had switched my major to Political Science and was heavily involved in student government. One of my favorite classes was Constitutional Law. I was working as a dispatcher for a local heating oil company nights and weekends. “Piano Man” hit the airwaves in NY pretty big and it made me a Billy Joe fan.
One of the things you have to admire about Billy Joel is his focus on the audience and why they come to see him. It is reflected in this song. Joel talked about this in a Rolling Stone interview in 2017. “I try to stay out of politics. I am a private citizen and I have a right to believe in my own political point of view, but I try not to get up on a soapbox and tell people how to think. I’ve been to shows where people start haranguing the audience about what’s going on politically and I’m thinking, “You know, this isn’t why I came here.” As a matter of fact, one of the biggest cheers of the night comes when we do “Piano Man” and I sing, “They know that it’s me that they’re coming to see to forget about life for a while,” and the audience lets out this huge “ahhhh” and I say, “OK, yeah, don’t forget that.” We’re more like court jesters than court philosophers.”
Hope you enjoy “Piano Man” by Billy Joel