Musical influences: Billy Joel

Whilst cooking dinner tonight Scenes From an Italian Restaurant by Billy Joel came on the radio and I was transported back... I first experienced the joy of this tune, in the Spring of 1985 when my 12-year self found himself stranded at his nan and grandad’s house in Bournemouth for three weeks over the Easter holidays.

Me (in the middle) with my brothers outside my nan and grandad’s house 1977

My grandad was ill in hospital and my nan was having to work, leaving me alone most of the days. I had my BBC B computer and my nan had bought me the game Commando, which I loved, it was like Rambo on the Commodore 64. But there was only so many hours I could play computer. To be honest I have never been committed enough to any computer games to get really good at them. My only other entertainment was my small collection of tapes including my own homemade compilation of the music of Billy Joel. My dad had every Billy Joel album up to the most recent which was, at that time, Innocent Man. I was already high on this album especially the dowop of The Longest Time. Over those three weeks I would become more intimate with that compilation experiencing an immense amount of joy performing, as you do, to an imagined audience … my imaginary piano skills were on par with the man himself! Each morning I looked foreward to that part of the day spent with Mr. Joel and his band. Opening with the scorching Root Beer Rag…

Root Beer Rag from the 1974 album Streetlife Serenade

…followed by massive tunes like Only The Good Die Young, It Aint No Crime Stilletto, and Piano Man, how could I go wrong!

I loved the introspection of Vienna and Honesty, the carefree My Life and Don’t Ask Me Why, and the sentiments of She’s Always a Woman and She’s Got a Way … that shit still gets me welling up….

52nd Street fast became one of my favourite albums as I traversed puberty. But, inevitably, I got into other things as a teenager and Billy Joel’s music struggled to compete. However, a few tunes did make it onto the playlist of my teens and twenties. Travellin Prayer is one of those tunes and remains one of my favourite tunes of all times…

Studio version from Piano Man 1973
Live in 1976