This Day In History: Billy Joel Releases “Piano Man” album [VIDEO]
I was working on my Vatican blog when producer Jeff Levack stormed in, excitingly announcing "Richie! here's a subject for yo to blog about-Billy Joel's Piano Man album was released on this day back in 1973". And that does excite me for sure. But what is Billy's connection to country music? Glad you asked!
There are country influences in a lot of old rock music if you really get into it. Allman Brothers, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Beatles for sure, and even Billy Joel. The Piano Man album was a pivotal release for Billy and really made his career explode with the title cut, of course. But he actually had another song on there called Travelin' Prayer which was very country influenced. Take a look and a listen to this 1972 performance on the the show "Midnite Special", courtesy of Youtube.
Don't think it sounds country enough? Well, Dolly Parton might disagree with you. And who's more country than her? Just tweak it a bit-throw in the right instruments, and voila!
He also had a song on there called the "Ballad of Billy the Kid" which was extremely "western" themed. So yes, Billy was influenced by country music as all great artists are. And I was extremely influenced by Billy Joel and Elton John growing up. If it weren't for those two, I'm not sure I ever would have learned piano at all. I used to listen to their records until the grooves were worn out. In fact, I'm going home to listen to the Piano Man album all the way thru today in Mr. Joel's honor! (And I'm sure Phil Vassar will be celebrating too-he's right up there in my book)
(And I'll never forget the chance I had to play the song onstage with Phil at our "Taste of Country" Barbeque in Saratoga! Boy does this song have special meaning for me!)