Known mainly as a piano player/singer, Billy Joel is also plays a mean harmonica. On his breakthrough song “Piano Man”, he gives the instrument the starring role.
The song’s harmonica solo kicks in straight from the intro, again in the middle to support the bridge, and one last time toward the end of the song.
Joel used the harmonica sparingly on his later records but this track was a harmonica classic.
“Piano Man” was the first song and title track for, this, Joel’s breakthrough album after signing with Columbia Records.
Once again, the harmonica solo was inspired by folk legend, Bob Dylan. It’s said that Dylan was the first performer Joel saw using a neck strap to hold the harmonica so he could play another instrument at the same time.
The track was written about Joel’s experiences playing at The Executive Room, a piano bar based in Los Angeles California. Joel had worked there for six months in 1972 after his first solo album, Cold Spring Harbor, flopped. The characters in the song are based on the patrons Joel encountered while working at the bar.
Check out Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” below: