Billy Joel Favorites: Volume 1 Songbook

The Billy Joel Favorites: Volume 1 collection features ten piano solo arrangements for intermediates and up by Jennifer Eklund. Includes favorites like, "Piano Man," "Pressure," "The Longest Time," and "Uptown Girl."

This post is part two of the Billy Joel Favorites Songbook Series.
Billy Joel Favorites: Volume 1 Songbook

🎹 About Billy Joel

Billy Joel is a renowned American singer-songwriter and pianist who gained immense success and recognition for his versatile musical talents. Born in 1949, Joel’s career spans decades and encompasses various genres, from rock and pop to ballads and even classical compositions. He rose to prominence in the 1970s with hits like “Piano Man,” showcasing his piano skills and distinctive voice. Throughout the 1980s, he produced an array of chart-topping albums and singles, including “Uptown Girl,” “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” and “Tell Her About It.” His ability to craft relatable lyrics and memorable melodies endeared him to audiences around the world.

In addition to his commercial success, Joel’s career is marked by accolades and achievements. He’s won multiple Grammy Awards and is one of the best-selling music artists of all time. His album “52nd Street” even received the prestigious Grammy for Album of the Year. Beyond his pop hits, Joel’s works have delved into more serious themes, showcasing his songwriting depth. He also achieved remarkable success with his live performances, particularly his historic concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Joel’s enduring influence and legacy as a prolific songwriter, pianist, and performer have solidified his place as an iconic figure in the music industry.

🎶 Billy Joel Favorites: Volume 1 Songbook

The following songs are included in the Billy Joel Favorites: Volume 1 songbook. These are all available as separate singles, but you get the most value by purchasing the whole collection. All of these arrangements are appropriate for intermediates and up.

  1. Leave a Tender Moment Alone
  2. Piano Man
  3. Pressure
  4. Roberta
  5. Root Beer Rag
  6. State of Grace
  7. The Longest Time
  8. This Night
  9. Uptown Girl
  10. You May Be Right

🎹 Watch a performance of the entire volume:

Let’s dive deeper with some more details about a few of my personal favorites from Billy Joel Favorites: Volume 1!

“Uptown Girl” (1983)

Billy Joel’s song “Uptown Girl” is a well-known and catchy pop song released in 1983. The song is part of Joel’s album “An Innocent Man” and has become one of his most recognizable and enduring hits. The song’s lyrics narrate a story of a working-class man who is romantically interested in a wealthy woman from a higher social class, often referred to as an ‘uptown girl.’ The song’s upbeat melody and cheerful lyrics make it a favorite among fans and a staple of Joel’s live performances.

The inspiration for “Uptown Girl” came from Joel’s experiences and relationships at the time. He had dated supermodels Christie Brinkley and Elle Macpherson, which influenced the song’s theme. The music itself draws inspiration from the doo-wop and pop styles of the 1950s and 1960s, with elements of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons’ sound. Joel’s distinctive voice and the song’s infectious melody contribute to its enduring popularity.

The song’s music video features Billy Joel and his backing band dressed as auto mechanics, contrasting with the glamorous appearance of Christie Brinkley, who plays the titular “uptown girl.” The video showcases playful interactions between the characters and choreographed dance sequences. Brinkley’s involvement added to the song’s visual appeal, as she was a prominent figure in the modeling world at the time.

“Uptown Girl” achieved significant commercial success, reaching the top of the charts in various countries, including the United Kingdom, where it became Billy Joel’s only number-one hit. The song’s lively and relatable theme, combined with its catchy melody and nostalgic vibes, have contributed to its enduring popularity, making it a beloved classic in Billy Joel’s discography.

“You May Be Right” (1980)

Billy Joel’s song “You May Be Right” is a rock track from his 1980 album “Glass Houses.” The song showcases Joel’s signature piano-driven rock style and catchy melodies, contributing to its popularity and enduring appeal. The lyrics of the song reflect themes of self-doubt, rebellion, and the complexities of life.

Released as a single, “You May Be Right” became a significant hit, reaching the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. Its energetic and upbeat tempo, along with its relatable lyrics, resonated with audiences and helped solidify its place in Joel’s repertoire of hit songs.

The song’s lyrics express a mixture of skepticism and self-awareness, with Joel admitting to his own imperfections and questionable behavior while questioning the sanity of those around him. The chorus’s refrain “You may be right, I may be crazy, but it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for” has become particularly iconic and often recognized even by those who may not be familiar with the rest of the song.

“Pressure” (1982)

A video full of 80s awesomeness:

Billy Joel’s song “Pressure” is a track from his 1982 album “The Nylon Curtain.” The song showcases Joel’s distinctive blend of rock, pop, and new wave influences, and it deals with themes of societal expectations, personal struggles, and the pressures that individuals face.

“Pressure” was released as a single and gained popularity for its catchy melody, energetic instrumentation, and thought-provoking lyrics. The song’s message resonated with audiences, as it addresses the pressures that people feel from various sources, such as society, family, and inner demons. The chorus emphasizes the refrain “You have to learn to pace yourself, pressure” which encapsulates the central theme of managing stress and finding balance.

The music video for “Pressure” is notable for its use of innovative computer-generated imagery (CGI) at the time. The video’s visuals, which depict abstract and surreal scenes, were cutting-edge for the early 1980s and added to the song’s impact.

“Pressure” became a successful single for Billy Joel, reaching the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Its combination of meaningful lyrics, engaging melody, and memorable music video contributed to its lasting appeal.

“Piano Man” (1973)

A classic. Full stop.

“Billy Joel’s song “Piano Man” is one of his most iconic and recognizable tracks. Released in 1973 as the title track of his second studio album, the song has become a cornerstone of Joel’s career and a classic in the world of pop and rock music.

“Piano Man” is characterized by its storytelling lyrics and melodic piano-driven arrangement. The song’s lyrics paint a vivid picture of the patrons at a bar, each with their own stories and struggles, while the pianist (referred to as the “piano man”) plays to lift their spirits. The chorus features the memorable line “Sing us a song, you’re the piano man,” which has become synonymous with the song itself.

The track’s narrative quality and relatable themes of seeking solace and connection through music struck a chord with audiences. Its melody, along with Joel’s emotive delivery, adds to the song’s emotional resonance.

Upon its release, “Piano Man” did not achieve immediate commercial success but gradually gained popularity through radio airplay and word of mouth. Over time, it became one of Billy Joel’s most beloved songs and a fan-favorite at his concerts. The song’s lasting appeal has solidified its status as a classic in Joel’s discography and a staple of his live performances.

🤔 Looking for more Billy Joel Songbooks? We’ve got you covered!

👋 Do you have a favorite Billy Joel tune? We’d love to hear about it!

Jennifer Eklund
Written by Jennifer Eklund
Jennifer Eklund holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in music from California State University, Long Beach. She is an avid arranger, composer, and author of the Piano Pronto® method books series as well as a wide variety of supplemental songbooks. She is also a Signature Artist with with a large catalog of popular music titles for musicians of all levels.


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