The student news site of Roncalli High School

Roncalli Media

Filed under opinion, uncategorized

40 years since the release of “The Stranger”

How the 5th studio album from Billy Joel solidified a 40 year career

TWO+FACES%3A+Joel+poses+on+the+cover+of+his+fifth+studio+album.+The+mask+he+is+seen+with+symbolizes+the+two+faces+and+many+personas+he+embodies+throughout+the+album.
TWO FACES: Joel poses on the cover of his fifth studio album. The mask he is seen with symbolizes the two faces and many personas he embodies throughout the album.

TWO FACES: Joel poses on the cover of his fifth studio album. The mask he is seen with symbolizes the two faces and many personas he embodies throughout the album.

Photo by Joe Schroeder

Photo by Joe Schroeder

TWO FACES: Joel poses on the cover of his fifth studio album. The mask he is seen with symbolizes the two faces and many personas he embodies throughout the album.

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


After being launched into super stardom in the early 1970’s from the success of his two first albums, Cold Spring Harbor and Piano Man, Billy Joel was under harsh inspection from the media due to the moderate commercial success and the unfavorable critical response to his next two albums, Streetlight Serenade and Turnstiles.

However, Joel made a comeback and perfected his craft with the release of his smash hit album, The Stranger. With a combination of slow piano ballads that made him famous, and rock songs that remain staples of classic radio stations, Joel managed to find himself in his purest form. The album solidified his place as a name to stay in the mind of pop culture and the world forever, a spot he most definitely deserves.

The following are brief, but in depth analysis’ of each of the album’s seven songs. These will hopefully instill in the reader a sense of deeper knowledge that will allow for a more enjoyable listen to this album. And finally, it is a tribute to one of the most iconic albums of the year 1977, 40 years ago.  

  1. The starting track is an up tempo rocker that is viable proof of Joel’s ability to bring an angry side to his music with Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song). According to Joel, the song is about “every Irish, Polish, and Italian kid trying to make a living in the U.S.”  It describes the lives and troubles of working class blue collar Americans in New York at the time.
  2. The second song is the title track, The Stranger. Perhaps Joel’s finest ballad, this song possibly out does his sacred anthem, Piano Man. Originally planning on using a wind instrument for the melody, he proceeds to whistle on the final cut. Producer Phil Ramone convinced Joel to whistle, famously commenting, “That’s “the stranger” whistling.”
  3. The third track Just The Way You Are, brings the catchy and infamous love song that landed Joel his first certified gold single in the United States. Joel’s softest side was exemplified at his finest, as he finesses his way through one of his most popular and intricate songs.
  4. The fourth song on the album is Scenes From An Italian Restaurant. This 7:11 rock masterpiece is Joel’s most daring and elaborate song of the album, if not his career. He is cited as quoting the B-side of The Beatles “Abbey Road” as a major influence for the tone and demeanor of this rock ballad.
  5. With one of the most peaceful piano introductions to a song I have ever heard, Vienna takes you along for a ride. Joel explains to the audience that life moves fast, and that sometimes you just need to slow down and go for a ride. Although a very intimate piece, it loses almost all credibility when the following track Only The Good Die Young starts to play, and Joel contradicts almost every point that he established at the start Vienna.
  6. The aforementioned Only The Good Die Young is a brash and unpolished uptempo journey that exemplifies Joel’s drug use and wild lifestyle. He is extraordinarily two faced as he switches from portraying himself as a caring adult in Vienna to a young and reckless troublemaker that pleads the song’s young female character to go with him and forget about her rules and morals.
  7. Finally, to end the album*, Joel plays the famous She’s Always A Woman. Joel wrote this love song for his then wife, Elizabeth Webber, and talks about the love of his life that is very “daring” and “will never back down.” Joel and Webber ended up divorcing 5 years later.

*Aside from a combination of three unfinished songs and an alternate lyric version of The Stranger

Print Friendly

Leave a Comment

Feel free to leave comments on this page or email us at [email protected]

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




*

Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • 40 years since the release of “The Stranger”

    opinion

    Life of a high school student

  • 40 years since the release of “The Stranger”

    opinion

    Sgt. Pepper’s: 50 years later

  • 40 years since the release of “The Stranger”

    opinion

    Tale as old as time

  • 40 years since the release of “The Stranger”

    opinion

    “Appetite for Destruction” 30 years

  • 40 years since the release of “The Stranger”

    opinion

    Ride the Vaporwave

  • 40 years since the release of “The Stranger”

    opinion

    10 shows to watch on Netflix

  • 40 years since the release of “The Stranger”

    opinion

    Miss Peregrine’s peculiar movie

  • 40 years since the release of “The Stranger”

    opinion

    Dangers of procrastination

  • 40 years since the release of “The Stranger”

    opinion

    Balancing athletics, academics

  • 40 years since the release of “The Stranger”

    opinion

    Beginning of year tips

The student news site of Roncalli High School
40 years since the release of “The Stranger”