Billy Joel - Piano Man - 1973

Introduction to "Piano Man" by Billy Joel

Billy Joel's "Piano Man," released in 1973, is a timeless classic that has captivated audiences for decades. This song is not just a piece of music but a rich narrative that tells a story through its lyrics, melody, and the emotive piano playing of Billy Joel himself. In this module, you will delve into the history, lyrics, and impact of "Piano Man," understanding why it remains an iconic piece in the world of music.

Background of "Piano Man"

“Piano Man” is often considered Billy Joel’s signature song. Released on November 2, 1973, as the lead single from his album of the same name, it marked a turning point in Joel's career. The song's narrative revolves around Joel's own experiences as a lounge pianist in Los Angeles. It paints a vivid picture of the various patrons of the bar, each with their own stories and struggles, with Joel's piano serving as the unifying element.

  1. Learn more about Billy Joel
  2. Explore the "Piano Man" album
  3. Discover more 1970s music

Lyrics and Musical Composition

The lyrics of "Piano Man" are notable for their storytelling quality, introducing characters like the old man, the waitress, and the businessman. The melody, primarily carried by the piano, is both haunting and uplifting, capturing the essence of the narrative. Joel's harmonica playing adds a unique texture to the song, reminiscent of folk music traditions.

  1. Explore the art of songwriting
  2. Learn about the piano in popular music
  3. Discover the role of the harmonica in music

Influence and Legacy

Since its release, "Piano Man" has become a staple in popular culture, covered by many artists and featured in various media. It showcases Joel's ability to blend storytelling with music, influencing generations of musicians and songwriters. The song's endurance is a testament to its relatability and the emotional depth it conveys.

  1. Learn about cover versions
  2. Music's role in popular culture
  3. Explore other influential songs of the 20th century

Quiz: Questions on the Song

What year was "Piano Man" released? (1973) (!1975) (!1971) (!1978)

Which city's experiences inspired "Piano Man"? (Los Angeles) (!New York) (!Chicago) (!Philadelphia)

What instrument, besides the piano, is prominently featured in "Piano Man"? (Harmonica) (!Guitar) (!Violin) (!Drums)

What is a recurring theme in "Piano Man"? (The lives and stories of different bar patrons) (!The struggles of a young musician) (!A love story) (!The glamour of Hollywood)

Which album features "Piano Man" as its title track? (Piano Man) (!Streetlife Serenade) (!The Stranger) (!52nd Street)

Quiz: Questions on the Performer

What is Billy Joel's full name? (William Martin Joel) (!William James Joel) (!William John Joel) (!William Robert Joel)

In which year was Billy Joel inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? (1999) (!2001) (!1997) (!2003)

Apart from "Piano Man," which other song is among Billy Joel's greatest hits? ("Uptown Girl") (!"Hotel California") (!"Bohemian Rhapsody") (!"Like a Rolling Stone")

In which US state was Billy Joel born? (New York) (!California) (!New Jersey) (!Pennsylvania)

What is the name of Billy Joel's first studio album? (Cold Spring Harbor) (!The Bridge) (!Turnstiles) (!Glass Houses)

Quiz: Questions on the Lyrics

What does the "old man sitting next to me" do in the song? (Makes love to his tonic and gin) (!Talks about his lost dreams) (!Plays the harmonica) (!Complains about the government)

Who does Billy Joel refer to as "John at the bar"? (The bartender) (!A regular customer) (!A businessman) (!A friend of his)

What does the "waitress" do in the song? (Practices politics) (!Sings along with the piano) (!Complains about her job) (!Serves drinks quietly)

What are the businessmen in the song doing? (Sharing a drink they call "loneliness") (!Discussing their profits) (!Playing cards) (!Watching the news)

How does Billy Joel refer to himself in the song? (The Piano Man) (!The singer-songwriter) (!The entertainer) (!The musician)


Billy Joel Piano Man
Harmonica Folk Music Influence
Los Angeles Inspiration for Song
1973 Release Year
Bar Patrons Central Characters

Open Tasks


  1. Write your own verse for "Piano Man": Create a verse that could fit into "Piano Man," focusing on a character you imagine in the bar.
  2. Research Los Angeles in the 1970s: Explore what Los Angeles was like in the 1970s to understand the setting of "Piano Man."


  1. Cover "Piano Man" on an instrument: Record yourself playing "Piano Man" on an instrument of your choice and share it.
  2. Analyze the song's structure: Break down the structure of "Piano Man," looking at its verses, chorus, and bridge.


  1. Compose a song inspired by "Piano Man": Write and compose a song that tells a story about people in a specific setting, similar to "Piano Man."
  2. Study the impact of "Piano Man" on popular culture: Research and present how "Piano Man" has influenced music and popular culture since its release.

Text bearbeiten Bild einfügen Video einbetten Interaktive Aufgaben erstellen

Oral Exam

  1. Discuss the storytelling aspect of "Piano Man": How does Billy Joel use music and lyrics to tell a story in "Piano Man"?
  2. Compare "Piano Man" to another storytelling song: Choose another song that tells a story and compare its narrative style to "Piano Man."
  3. Explore the cultural significance of "Piano Man": Why do you think "Piano Man" has remained popular and relevant for so long?
  4. Analyze the character portrayals in "Piano Man": Discuss how the characters in "Piano Man" are portrayed and what they represent.
  5. Examine the musical elements of "Piano Man": What role do the piano and harmonica play in the overall feel and message of the song?

OERs on the Topic


Share - Discuss - Rate


Text bearbeiten Bild einfügen Video einbetten Interaktive Aufgaben erstellen

Teilen Facebook Twitter Google Mail an MOOCit Missbrauch melden Zertifikat beantragen

(0 Stimmen)