I want us to go on a journey today with Billy Joel. The songwriter has sold more than more than 150 million records, had 33 Top 40 hits, and received 23 Grammy nominations. The piano man also regularly supports music education and charities. But, rather than focus on his accolades or his philanthropy, I want us to explore his lesser-known songs. I have chosen one to two songs from each album that showcase Joel’s ability to weave story through song. The ones that never made the charts. The ones who silently held their own next to his bigger hits. Come with me as we explore the secret life of Billy Joel.
“Nocturne (instrumental)” off Joel’s first album Cold Spring Harbor from 1971.
“Somewhere Along the Line” from Piano Man, 1973.
“Streetlife Serenader” off Streetlife Serenade released in 1974.
“Rootbeer Rag (instrumental)” from Streetlife Serenade, 1974.
“I Loved These Days” off his album titled Turnstiles, 1976.
“Vienna” from Joel’s fifth album The Stranger released in 1977.
“52nd Street”, the title track from the album 52nd Street, 1978.
“Through the Long Night” off Joel’s album titled Glass Houses from 1980.
“Surprises” from The Nylon Curtain, 1982.
“Where’s the Orchestra” off his eight album The Nylon Curtain, 1982.
“Easy Money” from An Innocent Man, 1983.
“Big Man on Mulberry Street” from The Bridge released in 1986.
“Code of Silence” off his tenth album The Bridge, 1986.
“When in Rome” from Storm Front released in 1989.
“Leningrad” off his album Storm Front, 1989.
“A Minor Variation” from Joel’s twelfth album titled River of Dreams in 1993.
“Opus 1: Soliloquy (On a Separation) off his classical album Fantasies and Delusions from 2001 (piano played by Richard Joo).
Listening to the hidden gems of an artist captures their essence; their secret life. While mega hits are popular, the songs who silently hold their own next to those mega hits showcase some of the best of a musician’s work. The secret life of Billy Joel illustrates his ability to weave a story through song and leaves us with a richer experience.
~Jenna Jakes, WOGB