Song of the Day #4,108: ‘Travelin’ Prayer’ – Billy Joel

Yesterday I covered the seventh studio album by Elton John, one of the great piano rockers of our time. Today I’ll focus on the sophomore album by another of them, Billy Joel.

Piano Man was inspired by John’s Tumbleweed Connection, in its use of Western themes and country-fueled character sketches (including a literal ‘Ballad of Billy the Kid’). The album’s classic title track offers up a bar full of memorable characters, enough to stock a decent NetFlix series.

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Song of the Day #3,792: ‘You’re My Home’ – Billy Joel

Billy Joel’s compilation of live performances, Songs in the Attic, is my third favorite album released in 1981. It might have cracked the top two but I subtracted a few points because it’s a greatest hits collection of sorts.

Joel was riding a commercial high after the releases of The Stranger, 52nd Street and Glass Houses, and saw an opportunity to introduce his new fans to the music he had recorded prior to breaking into the mainstream. Rather than release the original recordings, which were performed with session musicians, he preferred to put them in new context with the backing of his talented touring band.

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Song of the Day #3,775: ‘Everybody Loves You Now’ – Billy Joel

Here’s a great song from Billy Joel’s debut album, 1971’s Cold Spring Harbor. A live version was later released on the 1981 compilation album Songs in the Attic.

‘Everybody Loves You Now’ is a bitter serenade to a woman who hit it big and, in the narrator’s eyes, turned her back on the neighborhood (“you ain’t got the time to go to Cold Spring Harbor no more”).

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Song of the Day #3,361: ‘This is the Time’ – Billy Joel

A few weeks after Billy Joel won the Montauk Madness competition, the Randon iTunes Fairy has served up a song aimed at making all of us regret that outcome.

Billy Joel has written and recorded dozens of excellent songs and a handful of real stinkers. ‘This is the Time,’ from 1986’s otherwise fine album The Bridge, might be the stinkiest.

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Song of the Day #3,336: ‘And So It Goes’ – Billy Joel

Four months, six rounds, 64 contestants, and one Montauk Madness champion. He appeared in the very first matchup and he’s here at the end. Ladies and gentlemen, your winner: Mr. Billy Joel!

Joel faced off against Elvis Costello in the final round, and it was quite a battle. In fact, the outcome was decided by our closest margin yet, 51% to 49%. Just a couple of votes separated these two well-loved entertainers.

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Song of the Day #3,332: ‘Elvis Presley Blvd.’ – Billy Joel vs. Elvis Costello

And now, four months of Montauk Madness voting comes down to one last decision as we crown a grand champion. Our contestants face off across the pond, with Billy Joel repping New York and Elvis Costello hailing from merry England.

Two singer-songwriters in their 60s, each with a healthy catalog of original material. Joel has enjoyed far more commercial success, while Costello is the critics’ darling.

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Song of the Day #3,328: ‘The TImes They Are A’Changin” – Billy Joel vs. Bob Dylan

Four months after kicking off Montauk Madness (with a Billy Joel song, appropriately), we have arrived at the Final Four. Lots of close calls and blowouts, laughers and hair-pullers, and a lot of entertaining debate culminate in three more votes to decide — well, I’m not sure what we’re deciding. The consensus best artist according to readers of this blog as chosen from a group of 64 bands and soloists I rather haphazardly pulled together?

My initial intention for this series of blogs was just to run through the brackets myself and use the format to conclusively come up with my own favorite artist. I quickly realized that such an approach would be incredibly boring for my readers, who would certainly want a chance to chime in with their own votes.

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