Billy Joel – General Introduction

Sing Us A Song, You're The Piano Man

Sing Us A Song, You're The Piano Man

I discovered Billy Joel through his connection with Sir Elton John. Obviously, I had been on very good terms with songs like “Piano Man” and “Uptown Girl” long before I ever bought my fist Billy Joel record, and I recall that the one song of his that had me buying that album (a compilation) was “She’s Always A Woman”. I know the Elton/Billy comparison is a frequent one, but having listened to the output of both artists I can tell you it is a bit of a gratuitous comparison.

To begin with, Billy not only sings and plays the piano but actually writes the music and the words to his songs. Elton (as you probably know) writes only the music. That might be one of the reasons why Billy Joel only released about a dozen albums while Elton has released over 50 and counting.

But the main difference to me seems to lie in the actual subject matter. Simply put, Elton’s career has a somehow farcical value attached to it by many. Personally, I don’t like to use that expression when talking about Elton but it is the one that best defines a significant part of his career, and (most tellingly) the one that made him a star. And a fact is a fact: there is not an album within Elton’s discography that has the cultural significance of something like “The Nylon Curtain”, nor a song like “We Didn’t Start The Fire”.

Since Billy’s career has been shorter than Elton’s (he quitted recording rock and roll after releasing the “River Of Dreams” album in 1993), it is easier to get acquainted with his work and the filler is less abundant. Continue reading