Saturday, July 2, 2016

95. Billy Joel - The Stranger

Flickr Download DeviantArt

In this work Billy Joel is  playing chess with The Stranger.  I thought his deep concentration was too much for a harlequin mask.
Well, actually it's just a mirrored image with the reversed letters removed and the chessboard and pieces added.  Some Liquify
filter applications on the pillows and the sheets and. . . , well it looks like a draw.

The real story is told below.

The Stranger’s cover art shows Joel lounging on a bed, glancing down with a look of despondent  contemplation at a (harlequin)
mask.  On the wall  behind  him hangs a pair of boxing gloves  (Billy Joel used to box).  Coupled  with the  lyrics  from the title
track,  a story is  created  that differs from  the other tracks.  Joel ditches  pseudonyms and  third-person  narration  and tells a
personal tale of doubt and identity.  The first words  Joel lets out are,  “Well we all have a face that we hide away forever/And
we take them out and show ourselves when everyone has gone.”

With this introspective  song and artwork,  Joel “hung up the gloves”  and fell victim to someone  who had a side that was never
shown. The personality from the cover and vulnerability of the song set up the rest of the tracks to undertake a deeper meaning,
transcending beyond entertaining tunes. Review by Ryan Glaspell on Puluche; notes in parenthesis are by Bob Egan on PopSpots

Photo from PopSpots

No. 70,  Rolling Stone,  The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time;  No. 138,  Billboard,  The 300 Best-Selling Albums of All Time;
No. 246, The Virgin All-Time Album Top 1000.

Photo by Jerry Abramowitz. Album produced by Phil Ramone. Family Productions/Columbia 1977.

Joel describes the sessions for the album as "a blast" and as the breakthrough album with four hit singles. The Stranger contains
nine songs.  Songwriting  on "Movin' Out  (Anthony's Song),"  "She's  Always a Woman,"  "Just the Way  You Are,"  "Everybody Has a
Dream," and "Only the Good Die Young"  was completed  before recording,  while "Vienna," "Scenes from an  Italian Restaurant,"
"The Stranger," and "Get It Right the First Time," which originated as short tunes  or musical fragments, were completed  in the

Lyrically, the album's approach is decidedly narrative; each song tells a story. The seven-and-a-half-minute epic "Scenes From an
Italian Restaurant" began as a shorter song entitled "The Ballad of Brenda and Eddie," which became the third section of "Italian
Restaurant." While composing "The Stranger,"  Joel whistled the track's signature theme for producer Phil Ramone, claiming that
he (Joel) needed to find an instrument to play it. Ramone replied: "No, you don't. That's 'The Stranger,' the whistling." wikipedia

(A) Movin' Out (Anthony's Song) - The Stranger - Just the Way You Are - Scenes from an Italian Restaurant

(B) Vienna - Only the Good Die Young - She's Always a Woman - Get It Right the First Time - Everybody Has a Dream/The Stranger (Reprise)

"Just the Way You Are" live from MAXFMTV on YouTube.