The Heartfelt Story Billy Joel Shares in “Piano Man”- By Nick Altman
Label and Release Date: “Piano Man” is part of Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” album which was released by Columbia Records but thee song was first released as a single on November 2, 1973.
Key Track: As previously stated, this song was mentioned as a single and then later added to the “Piano Man” album as a whole. I think this speaks for itself as to why I chose this song out of the entire album.
Album Art: The album art for this song is Billy Joel’s face in black and white emerging from a shadowy black background. On the top are the words “Billy Joel | Piano Man” in cursive italics, giving a gentle feel that comes with the song.
Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” tells a story not just about Billy Joel’s time working in a bar, but gives the listener insight into the type of crowd seen at the bar as well. The song consists of themes like loneliness, growth, bitterness, sadness, and also a sense of happiness. One of the main messages is how everyone in the bar has their own story, and how life does not always seem to work out in line with everyone’s initial dreams. The beat of the song is, no surprise, led by a piano and has some harmonica blended within to add to this happy/sad melody.
Thee lyrics within “Piano Man” balance the piano in a perfect way, allowing Joel to tell the story of each and every one of the common bargoers. My favorite line from the song is the following:
“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”
This to me, highlights Billy Joel’s combination of lyrical genius and expressive emotion as it shows the sad reality for many. However, the end of the song picks up into a positive tone as it shows the joy Billy Joel brings to these dreamers as he plays his piano for them night after night. He ignites a fire and allows these people to remember who they once were, letting everyone reminisce in a calm and comforting setting. One criticism of “Piano Man” would be that it may come across as somber and many people just simply do not like that type of style. Also, the beat is repetitive which some may find annoying after a few verses. In conclusion, “Piano Man” by Billy Joel is a smooth and catchy song with a deeper meaning of never giving up on your dreams.