Billy Joel, "The Piano Man"

12. Billy Joel

Throughout the month of February, 102.9 WMGK will count down the 20 greatest classic rock singers decided by our listener vote. 

We’ll dedicate daily blocks to one singer who’s made the list every weekday throughout the month.

MGK will celebrate Billy Joel on Monday, Feb. 13. 

Joel is one of the best-selling artists of all time. He has won six Grammy Awards, and he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1999. The Library of Congress chose “Piano Man” to be added to the National Recording Registry in 2014.

The Long Island native has had two hits, “It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me” and “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” reach the top of the charts. Other widely known songs include “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” “Captain Jack,” and “Only the Good Die Young.”

Billy Joel and Stevie Nicks will perform at Lincoln Financial Field in June. 

His work has earned him the #12 spot on the list in 2023. 

MGK’s Top 20 Classic Rock Singers

20. Brad Delp

19. Steven Tyler

18. Bruce Springsteen

17. Don Henley

16. Jon Anderson

15. Mick Jagger

14. Phil Collins

13. Stevie Nicks

12. Billy Joel

11. ?

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1. ?

5 Relatable Bar Characters in "Piano Man" Lyrics

  • The "Old Man Sitting Next to Me"

    “There’s an old man sitting next to me
    Making love to his tonic and gin
    He says, Son can you play me a memory?
    I’m not really sure how it goes
    But it’s sad and it’s sweet and I knew it complete
    When I wore a younger man’s clothes.”

    Billy Joel characterizes an old man who might not be so sharp anymore. His longing for the past sets the tone for theme of the song.

  • John at the Bar

    “Now John at the bar is a friend of mineHe gets me my drinks for freeAnd he’s quick with a joke, or to light up your smokeBut there’s some place that he’d rather be.”

    The bartender might seem like everyone’s favorite person on the surface, but the song reveals that there’s “some place that he’d rather be.” John’s lofty dreams of becoming a movie star are hardly uncommon for some people just fighting to make ends meet.


  • Paul the Real Estate Novelist

    “Now Paul is a real estate novelistWho never had time for a wife.”

    The idea of someone who is married to a job is emotionally authentic and appealing in a genuine sense, regardless of how sad it might be.

  • Davy from the Navy

    “And he’s talkin’ with Davy, who’s still in the navyAnd probably will be for life”

    The idea of Davy and Paul having a casual conversation at the bar escaping from the bigger picture of life is surprisingly heartwarming.

  • The Waitress Who's Practicing Politics

    “And the waitress is practicing politicsAs the businessmen slowly get stoned”

    Like John at the bar, the waitress is hustling around to earn her living while also chasing higher aspirations in life. It’s as relatable of an idea as any.

Colin Newby is a digital content contributor for 97.5 The Fanatic, 93.3 WMMR, and 102.9 WMGK in Beasley Media's Philadelphia cluster. Topics include sports, music, entertainment, and Philadelphia local stories. He earned degrees as a Bachelor of Arts from Temple University and a Master of Science from Saint Joseph's University. His writing experience includes credentialed coverage of the NHL and the Philadelphia Flyers. He joined the Professional Hockey Writers' Association in 2022.

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