EP 054 – Album Retrospective: Piano Man

Billy Joel’s second solo album included his most iconic song. And the one that provided his breakthrough success and pointed the way for his post-West Coast work. But surrounding the title track and “Captain Jack” are the sounds of a songwriter still finding his way. Fortunately for us, that path is still pretty exciting. 

Released in 1973, Piano Man lays much of the blueprint for the hits to come. We hear great melodies, virtuosic piano playing, and a variety of styles. There’s also that flair for theatrical drama that earned him just as many comparisons to Great American Songbook-style writing as it did to rock and roll. 

But, there are also country and gospel elements that Joel would soon abandon. And, the lyrical and songwriting skills that would provide him with dozens of hit records later were still developing here. 

In fact, as we’ll learn, it was once slated to be his last album for a major label instead of the start of his ascent to global superstardom. 

Despite all this, Piano Man is a record filled with big hits, classic songs, and fan favorites. And, it was an important step toward the turns Billy’s career would take in just a few short years. 

Join us as we dig deep into Billy Joel’s major-label solo debt, Piano Man.


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