Hello, Dear Reader, and welcome to another edition of On Music, the part of A Certain Point of View, Too where I share my favorite songs and other musical compositions across the various genres that I enjoy. Today I’ll be featuring my Top 10 Favorite Songs by Billy Joel, who happens to be (a) my favorite pop/rock singer/songwriter and (b) the only artist that I have seen “live” at concert venues twice.
Like John Denver, Billy Joel was part of the soundtrack of my life when I was a teenager and young adult. Unlike Denver – who I more or less ignored until 2017, and “rediscovered” when I heard Milt Okun’s tribute album Great Voices Sing John Denver on Amazon Music – the “Piano Man” has been one of the few pop or rock artists that I have followed more or less consistently since I was in 12th grade at South Miami Senior High. I have more Billy Joel albums (nine) and “greatest hits” compilations (two) than I do of any non-classical or film music artist/composer.
Why is Billy Joel my favorite pop/rock artist? Well, for starters, he is an eclectic composer/lyricist who can write songs across a variety of genres within the spectrum of late 20th Century American popular music. He can rock you out with guitar-heavy songs such as A Matter of Trust, give you an autobiographical ballad about working in an LA bar – Piano Man – or a Fifties-style doo-wop tribute song a la For the Longest Time. He explores the highs and lows of romantic love (and loss) in many of his piano-backed ballads – She’s Got a Way, She’s Always a Woman, and And So it Goes, as well as social and cultural events that took place during his lifetime.
And now, without further ado, here are my Top 10 Favorite Songs by Billy Joel. As I did with my similar list of My Top 10 Favorite Songs by John Denver, I will showcase, in order of preference, two versions of each song; one by the original artist, and a cover by either a solo singer or an ensemble. Enjoy!
- And So it Goes
- Piano Man
- An Innocent Man
- She’s Always a Woman
- Goodnight, Saigon
- A Matter of Trust
- She’s Got a Way
- My Life
- For the Longest Time
Bonus Track: ‘To Make You Feel My Love’
Like most musicians, Billy Joel loves the works of other songwriters and singers, and I’ve heard him do covers of The Beatles – there’s one of A Hard Day’s Night in the four-disc set Billy Joel: The Complete Hits Collection, 1973-1997 – and other artists.
His best-known cover song may be his 1997 take on Bob Dylan’s To Make You Feel My Love, which he added to that year’s Billy Joel: Greatest Hits, Volume III, along with another cover, this time of Leonard Cohen’s Light As a Breeze. I like both, but my favorite one is To Make You Feel My Love, which was also covered that same year by Billy’s friend, the legendary country singer Garth Brooks.
 The first time I went to a Billy Joel concert was in March of 1990, when my friend Betsy Matteis gave me a ticket to attend one of his performances at the now-demolished Miami Arena during his 1989-1990 Storm Front tour. Betsy was working that night at Coral Gables Senior High, so she couldn’t go with me, but she gave her ticket to a friend who went to the concert with me, then dropped me off at my house afterwards.
The second time was in 2018, when my now ex-girlfriend and current caregiver got us tickets at the last minute for Joel’s last appearance at the Amalie Arena in the Tampa Bay area.