5 Billy Joel Songs You Don't Know And Why I Am Mad At Billy

Whenever I play a song for someone on the piano for the first time, I ask them to pick any Billy Joel song.  They almost always pick Piano Man.  I play 1 verse and then play a real Billy Joel song.  Most people only know Billy Joel from what was played on the radio.  Turn on the radio right now.  Do you like what they are playing?  I didn't think so.  So, why would you have them tell you which Billy songs to listen to?  You should have me tell you.  Billy was the first artist that I was really obsessed with.  I bought all his albums and I can play all of his songs on the piano. He helped me through a lot of rough times.  But I have to admit that Billy and I have been fighting for the last few years.  Before I get into that, I want to list 5 Billy Joel songs that you probably don't know but definitely should know. 1. Prelude/Angry Young Man - Turnstiles 1976.  When you download this song, make sure you get this version as the piano playing is amazing on it.  This song along inspired me to study, practice and tackle the piano.  But it is the lyrics that have haunted me for years.  It speaks of the belief young people have that all their ideas are 100% correct.  And as time has gone by, I find myself seeing the Angry OLD man's point of view more.  That scares me as when I first heard this song I swore I would fight forever.

2. Vienna - The Stranger 1977.  This is the best song he ever wrote.   On the CD that contains his biggest hits, this track is the one you should know.  The lyrics are so perfectly fitted to the music and they are really quite complex.  This is not a love song, a break up song, or a screw you song.  It is a song about modern adult life and disappointment.  Maybe it is better to say its a song about true life.  When you have a rough day at work, the kids are driving you crazy and all your friends are busy just remember . . . Vienna waits for you.

3. Temptation - The Bridge 1986.  This is the first song he wrote for his daughter and to me it's better than Lullaby.  This always seemed like a Bob Dylan song to me.  I would love to hear Bob cover this song.  It is tracks like these on the albums that make me sad for people who just have the greatest hits CD.  I have a bootleg version of this that has a bridge section that he cut for the final album.  If anyone knows why he cut it, let me know.

4.  All For Leyna - Glass Houses 1980.  This is one of Billy's many obsessive love song songs.  This is a great track to listen to on your cassette tape deck in your car on the drive home from working at Arby's when an ample-breasted, short brunette that you love with all your heart won't give you the time of day and her boyfriend is a punk ass jerk who doesn't deserve her as much as you would . . . not that I would know.

5. Summer, Highland Falls - Turnstiles 1977.  Even Billy says this song was a step forward in his song writing.  It tells the story of an up and down relationship with a piano arpeggio that rises and falls like the manic-depressive the character is.  I have never heard this song in concert which makes me sad.  I will never understand why pop stars think they should only sing their hits.  Billy sings the same 20 songs at each concert.  If you go see the Indigo Girls live, they can sing any of their songs and everyone there knows each track.  Isn't that the better fan base?

So, this leads to why we are fighting.  As you can see Billy got me through adolescence, unrequited love, my marriage, my divorce, and parenthood.  This the responsibility of the poet.  To see the mundane in life, comment on it and let the average person live through that art.  In 1994 Billy released River of Dreams.  It debuted at number one.  He then dropped out of writing songs but not touring.   To me, he knew that would be his last number one.  He wasn't going to be on top of the charts anymore.  Much in the way that Elton John, Paul McCartney and Randy Newman's  new record sales have been less than they were in the 70's and 80's.  But they are still writing.  They are commenting on the life of an aging man telling stories that need to be told to all of us.   Bob Dylan has not quit and because he is confronting his mortality like an artist should, his record sales are better than ever.

Before 1994, Billy had released one greatest hits album and one true live concert CD in his 24 years of being a musician.  Since 1994, he has released about 357 compilation or live CDs.  So, it's not like he just went away.  He still is collecting the money but no longer shepherding those of us who looked to him to prepare us for what lies ahead.  MTV or radio may not be looking to him for this wisdom but his true fans are. A person who writes a song like Vienna still has things to say.  I believe that the writer of We Didn't Start The Fire doesn't have much to add.  But the writer of Big Man On Mulberry Street has so much more to share and give.  I think Randy Newman's last CD sold maybe 50,000 copies.  So what?  His song Losing You is one of the most touching songs ever.  I think Billy needs to release where he is in his career, shake off the fear and confront that monster that contains 88 enemy combatants and prove that he is still the Angry Young Man that I know he is.

Follow us on Facebook or twitter @redroompodcast

Subscribe to our Weekly Podcast on Television at iTunes