My next candidate for the Billy Joel anthology series comes from his 1976 album Turnstiles, and — like ‘Roberta’ yesterday — it’s another lesser-known track with a title that’s somebody’s first name.
The James in this song is reportedly based on a friend of Joel’s named James Bosse, who played with him in a band when they were teenagers. In some interviews, Joel has denied that the song is about a specific person and suggested the name just sounded right with the melody.
Turnstiles is Billy Joel’s first truly great album. Featuring such classics as ‘New York State of Mind,’ ‘I’ve Loved These Days,’ ‘Summer, Highland Falls,’ ‘Say Goodbye to Hollywood’ and ‘Miami 2017’ (which I featured as a Song of the Day back in November), it’s practically a greatest hits collection.
This is Joel’s first New York album, to a degree that I never really appreciated until reading about it for this blog entry. All of the songs I mentioned above are either about New York or about leaving California behind.