Five piano-driven rock songs that are incredibly underappreciated

Tickling the ivories never sounded so good.
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Tom Waits - "The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)" (1976)

There has been no other artist like Tom Waits at the height of his powers. He not only sings about the characters in his songs, but he forms the music around them as well. This track is a classic example as Waits sings about a drunkard and has the piano falter and play out of tune as well. Even with that, this is a moment of beauty and want and need.

The narrator on the track is stuck in a bar looking for a waitress for another drink while speaking ill-formed sentences. This all could have gone south by a less talented artist, but Waits is in full control even though his antagonist is not. That is a bit of the point, though. Waits the songwriter is observing but Waits the character is completely stuck in time while being out of time on the piano. This is real art.

Elton John - "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" (1972)

Like Billy Joel's song above, this gem gets a bit lost by Elton John's more poppier tunes. But this is one of John's most honest vocal performances with fairly straight-forward lyrics to boot. The production is what makes the track perfect, however, as the instrumentation is sparse which lets John's voice and the piano stand out even more.

Bernie Taupin's lyrics are also some of his best with lines such as "While Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters/Sons of bankers, sons of lawyers/Turn around and say good morning to the night/For unless they see the sky/But they can't and that is why/They know not if it's dark outside or light". This track is ultimately a love song to New York City, but it aches and pines for closeness with other human beings and its beauty permeates.

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