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“Piano Man” Billy Joel

If you knew nothing at all about Billy Joel and simply looked at a Billboard chart of his hits, you’d probably never guess the importance of “Piano Man.” It came at the start of his career in 1972 when he was just a struggling musician in Los Angeles, playing piano bars under the name Billy Martin. Joel was frustrated and struggling to get out from under a record deal. He expressed his disillusionment through the fictional characters in the song who sit around the bar, encouraging him to “sing us a song…you’re the piano man,” characters like John the bartender, the waitress, and bar regulars like Paul and Davy (“who’s still in the Navy…and probably will be for life.”)

Joel was even unhappy with the way “Piano Man” was treated by record executives who felt five minutes and 38 seconds was way too long for a radio hit. So they cut two verses in half and spliced them together for the radio version. He later commented on this in his song “The Entertainer” where he sings, “It was a beautiful song, but it ran too long. If you’re gonna have a hit, you gotta make it fit. So they cut it down to 3:05.”

Last Friday, Billy Joel played the very last concert ever at Shea Stadium before it’s torn down.

The song that has become his signature song. “Piano Man” only reached No. 25 in February of 1972, but is probably the biggest and most loved sing-along song in rock history.

Source: www.askmen.com/Billy Joel Liner notes

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