Billy Joel Favorites: Volume 4 Songbook

The Billy Joel Favorites: Volume 4 collection features ten piano solo arrangements for intermediates and up by Jennifer Eklund. Includes favorites like, "An Innocent Man," "Say Goodbye to Hollywood," "Angry Young Man," and "Allentown."

This post is part five of the Billy Joel Favorites Songbook Series.
Billy Joel Favorites: Volume 4 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 4 Songbook

The following songs are included in the Billy Joel Favorites: Volume 4 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. A Matter of Trust
  2. Allentown
  3. An Innocent Man
  4. Angry Young Man
  5. Laura
  6. Say Goodbye to Hollywood
  7. Somewhere Along the Line
  8. Surprises
  9. This Is the Time
  10. Two Thousand Years

🎹 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 4!

“An Innocent Man” (1983)

In the summer of 1987, Billy Joel accepted the Kremlin’s invitation to the U.S.S.R. for six fully-staged rock shows in Moscow and Leningrad, fulfilling a longtime desire to perform in Russia and permanently affecting the spirit of the country ahead of the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991.

Billy Joel’s song “An Innocent Man"" is a track from his 1983 album of the same name. Released as the third single from the album, the song pays homage to the musical style of Ben E. King and the Drifters. It reached No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and spent a week at No. 1 on the Billboard adult contemporary chart.

The song’s musical style captures the essence of doo-wop and R&B from the past, and it features Joel hitting high notes that he believed would mark the end of his ability to reach such vocal heights. “An Innocent Man” was a successful continuation of Joel’s streak of top 10 singles from the album, showcasing his ability to blend different musical styles and create enduring hits.

“Allentown” (1982)

Billy Joel’s song “Allentown"" is the lead track from his 1982 album “The Nylon Curtain.” The song is accompanied by a conceptual music video. Released as the album’s lead single, “Allentown” became an anthem of blue-collar America, representing the aspirations and frustrations of the working class in the late 20th century.

The song reached No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent six consecutive weeks at that position, eventually becoming certified gold. It encapsulated the decline of the manufacturing sector in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and the struggles of the working class during that time.

Inspired by the declining manufacturing industry in the region, the song’s rhythm mimics the sound of a rolling mill, a prominent sound in Bethlehem when the Bethlehem Steel plant operated. Despite its sad lyrics, the song carries a message of resilience and hope.

Initially titled “Levittown,” the song’s theme shifted as Joel read about the steel industry’s decline. It was completed in 1982 and highlighted in Joel’s 1987 concert in the Soviet Union, where he likened the story to the struggles faced by Soviet youths.

The song was met with mixed responses in Allentown, with some criticizing it for stereotypes, while others praised it for its gritty portrayal. The song’s music video, directed by Russell Mulcahy, received heavy rotation on MTV.

“A Matter of Trust” (1986)

Aww, Christie!

Billy Joel’s song “A Matter of Trust"" is from his 1986 album “The Bridge.” Released as the second single from the album, it became the second top 10 single following “Modern Woman.”

The song’s music video, directed by Russell Mulcahy and produced by Paul Flattery, features Joel and his band performing in the basement of a building in New York City’s East Village. The video also includes shots of people in the city gathering around the building’s windows to watch the performance, showcasing a sense of unity among the crowd. Christie Brinkley, Joel’s then-wife, appears in the video holding their baby daughter Alexa. This video is unique for Joel as it features him playing guitar, deviating from his more common piano-based music.

Reception from critics highlighted the song’s energetic rock sound, emphasizing its departure from Joel’s typical soft-rock ballad style. Billboard praised its “refreshingly untidy rock” with an “elegant song structure.” Cash Box noted the song’s pop qualities and rock guitar backing, giving it a cutting edge.

Moreover, “A Matter of Trust” gained significant popularity in the Soviet Union as part of a state-sponsored television promotion leading up to Joel’s 1987 concerts in the USSR, documented in the album “Kontsert.” The song’s blend of rock elements and Joel’s signature style contributed to its appeal and made it a notable track in Billy Joel’s discography.

“Prelude/Angry Young Man” (1976)

Live from Long Island:

Billy Joel’s song “Prelude/Angry Young Man"" is the sixth track from his 1976 album “Turnstiles.” This composition is divided into two sections: “Prelude” and “Angry Young Man.” It has been featured in various live albums and performances and has even become part of the Broadway show “Movin’ Out.”

The “Prelude” is a brief instrumental piece that lasts around 1 minute and 43 seconds. It starts with a rapid, energetic piano riff that pays homage to the drum part in the song “Wipe Out” by The Surfaris. The “Prelude” transitions through different musical styles, including ballad, funk, and a Southwestern beat.

Following the “Prelude,” “Angry Young Man” begins. This part of the song presents a sardonic depiction of youthful rebellion and the struggles of trying to fight against life’s challenges, even in the face of repeated failures. The lyrics contrast the intensity of the angry young man with the narrator’s perspective of having passed the age of youthful righteousness and adopting a more mature outlook on life.

While “Prelude/Angry Young Man” was never released as a single, it has become a fan favorite and a staple of Joel’s live performances. The instrumental “Prelude” was used as an opening theme for a German television talk show and as a theme song for a news magazine program. It’s also been used during stoppages of play at New York Knicks home games in Madison Square Garden.

🤔 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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