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. 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)