Billy Joel – “Piano Man” Live
Can You Play Me A Memory?
“Piano Man” was the first single released by Billy Joel on November 2, 1973 for his second studio album. It’s widely considered as his signature song since it was his FIRST ever major hit. It was even certified gold by the RIAA. Joel’s inspiration was his experience while working for six months at the piano bar, “The Executive Room.” He didn’t play as Billy Joel. Instead, he used Bill Martin.
Billy Joel: “I have no idea why that song became so popular. It’s like a karaoke favorite. The melody is not very good and very repetitious, while the lyrics are like limericks. I was shocked and embarrassed when it became a hit. But my songs are like my kids and I look at that song and think: ‘My kid did pretty well.'”
- Number 25 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100
- Number 4 in the U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks
The part where Joel plays a harmonica was inspired by Bob Dylan. He was amazed at how the strap enabled Dylan to play two instruments at the same time. This track has also been a staple in Joel’s repertoire and during his live shows, he’d often play it as an encore.
During one event, Kevin Spacey even showed off his harmonica skills by playing alongside Joel!