The Piano Man at 50

Fifty years ago, a performer called Bill Martin wrote a song about his experience playing in a bar. He introduced us to people he met there. A waitress who’s practicing politics, a real estate novelist who never had time for a wife, among others. They are sharing a drink they called loneliness, which as the song affirms is better than drinking alone.

Bill Martin was the stage name for Billy Joel and the song is, of course, Piano Man.

As Joel’s famed residency at Madison Square Garden comes to a close and a new exhibit looking at his legacy opens at Long Island Museum and Entertainment Hall of Fame’s Stony Brook museum, we reflect back on Joel’s contribution to our ideas of struggle and success in America.

Bob McKinnon, host of the podcast Attribution, talks to Josh Duchan an ethnomusicologist specializing in American popular music. He has published three books, including Billy Joel: America’s Piano Man and “We Didn’t Start the Fire”: Billy Joel and Popular Music Studies. You’ll also hear from the Piano Man himself, Billy Joel.

For more information on Piano Man @ 50 and the resources mentioned in this program, please visit:

Joshua Duchan

Billy Joel:  America’s Piano Man

We Didn’t Start the Fire: Billy Joel and Popular Music Studies

Billy Joel

Billy Joel: My Life, A Piano Man’s

Journey @ The Long Island Music $ Entertainment Hall of Fame

The Piano Man @ 50 is a WLIW-FM special program distributed in partnership with Chasing the Dream, a public media initiative from The WNET Group, reporting on poverty, justice, and economic opportunity in America. You can learn more at Major funding for Chasing the Dream is provided by The JPB Foundation.

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