The Vulture has taken it upon itself to rank every Billy Joel song ever recorded.

While it's list is open for discussion, my top 10 is not.

It's a great starting point for argument, if you're a Billy Joel fan. (If you're not, why comment at all? Something that's always bothered me about the Internet).

It's hard to rank any artist by their complete works, because there's a maturation process they all go through, not to mention a period of just horrific work in the middle, but this list is well thought out.

Vulture's Top 10 Billy Joel Songs

Here's Vulture's top 10 and its takes on Joel's songs:

10. “The Longest Time,” An Innocent Man

The most retro song on a retro album, and another affectionate tribute to the doo-wop he heard as a kid. Not profound, but a superior piece of pop craftsmanship. Not the most ambitious song; simple structure, simple lyrics, and there’s nothing bad about it."

9. "I Don't Want to Be Alone," Glass Houses

How’d everyone miss this? It’s an amazingly accurate (and completely unexpected) Elvis Costello pastiche, missing only the organ part. A great next-phase New Wave pop song, one that deserves to come out of the trunk."

8. “Vienna,” The Stranger

A pretty song, a long metaphor for finding yourself at a crossroads in life, with a nice lilt and a restrained bit of whimsy. Unusually oblique. As a musician I know neatly put it to me the other day, “It’s what I want from him, with few Billy problems.” Cole Porter would have nodded and smiled at a line like “You can get what you want or you can just get old.”

7. “Just the Way You Are,” The Stranger

The straightest of straight-up ballads, I grant you, but this is Billy Joel’s 'Yesterday,' and 'clevah conversation' makes it all his own, because Long Island."

6. “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway),”Turnstiles

That date sounded deep in the future back in 1976, didn’t it? New York was, everyone thought, dying; amazing to think that a song could be written from the point of view of a retiree in Florida, remembering when the city collapsed. So he got the future wrong, but something about New Yorkers’ toughness still applies. And wait two years for the be-all-end-all live performance of this one, probably at Sun Life Stadium."

5. “An Innocent Man,” An Innocent Man

Hard to think of a rock star as an innocent, but he really was — don’t forget that he was repeatedly conned out of millions of dollars by his managers and handlers. Another great vocal performance, on an underrated album that contains several of his best songs."

4. "Sleeping With the Television On," Glass Houses

The best Billy Joel song that was never a hit. He still plays it in concert now and then, and has been known to introduce it as 'kind of an obscure song;' it shouldn’t be. Clean power, vivid image, supple singing, tight rhythm, well-made, and bulletproof. The TV-sign-off sound effect at the beginning is the only bit of corn here; lop that off and it’s perfect.

3. “New York State of Mind,” Turnstiles

Every era produces a couple of standards about New York City, and this one more than holds its own, between Comden and Green on one end and Jay Z and Alicia Keys on the other. Sinatra could’ve recorded it; Tony Bennett did; many others will. Impeccable."

2. “Only the Good Die Young,” The Stranger

None of that sour petulance here; it’s a song by a happy warrior in love and romance. Maybe Catholic girls start much too late, maybe they don’t, but either way, it’s funny as hell."

1. “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant,” The Stranger

His longest song -- it’s really three songlets, intertwined, a little seven-minute operetta -- and, yes, his best. A century from now, if you want a wry but ultimately affectionate look at Long Island middle-class life circa 1976, you could do a lot worse than Brenda (sorry, Brender) and Eddie, their paintings from Sears and the Parkway Diner."

My Top 10 Billy Joel Songs

Some good songs in there, for sure, but here's MY top 10 Billy Joel songs. And since I've had my share of ups and downs with my Billy fixation over the years, it's a bit different.

What about you? What are your favorite Billy Joel songs?

 

 

  • 10

    "All For Leyna"

    Any guy who's ever obsessed over a woman, only to get nothing in return can relate to this song.

  • 9

    "Allentown"

    When this song came out, I was unemployed and living in Saginaw. I think it says what I felt at the time.

  • 8

    "Say Goodbye to Hollywood"

    I got hooked on this song via a Bette Midler cover version. Like many of his songs, there's a '50s vibe to it, and Liberty DeVito's drumming is sublime. "Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes, I'm afraid it's time for goodbye again."

  • 7

    "She's Got A Way"

    What is pop music about if it isn't about falling in love? Just a good falling in love song.

  • 6

    "New York State of Mind"

    You don't have to be from New York to understand this feeling.

  • 5

    "Captain Jack"

    Sometimes there's sad songs that grab you, this goes one step beyond that into a personal hell.

  • 4

    "Big Shot"

    The universal appeal of Billy is he knows where we've all been. The morning after you shot off your mouth while drunk is never a good feeling.

  • 3

    "Close To The Borderline"

    It's almost as if Billy knew you were checking out by listening to the Ramones and the Clash and he was jealous.

  • 2

    "Summer, Highland Falls"

    I once asked my dad why Irish music was either really sad or really happy, he told me "Nobody wants to hear a song about feeling okay". Exactly.
    "It's either sadness or euphoria".

  • 1

    "Travelin' Prayer"

    Okay the cornball fake bluegrass is kind of weird, but who hasn't said a prayer like this for a loved one on the road?

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