Top ten best deep cuts by Billy Joel

Joel has given us great singles but some of his best songs are ones we do not hear as much.

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“YOU’RE MY HOME” from Piano Man (1973)

The title track from Joel’s second album became his signature song. It was his first hit. It was the first time that most people heard him. The rest of the album mostly featured the rocking juvenile braggadocio of “The Ballad of Billy the Kid,” “Worse Comes to Worst,” and “Captain Jack.” Some people liked that version of Billy. But a lot more preferred the simple heartfelt beauty of “You’re My Home.” It showcased something that, when at his best, he could do better than most pop songwriters.

The live version of “You’re My Home” from Songs in the Attic was released as a single in 1981, but the original album version was not. At that point in his career, Billy was still positioning himself as a bad-ass rock & roller. “You’re My Home” showed early on that at heart, Billy Joel was a balladeer who could use his rock & roll sensibilities to rescue those ballads from the soporifics of many of the era’s softer love songs.

“LAURA” from The Nylon Curtain (1982)

The first five songs on this list have all come from Joel’s first four albums. This is the first from a later 1980’s album. The progression is obvious. “Laura” is far more complex, both musically and lyrically than the similarly-themed “Everybody Loves You Now” from his debut album eleven years earlier.

Because Joel ended his first marriage to Elizabeth Weber right around the time The Nylon Curtain was released, the common assumption was that “Laura” was modeled on Weber. Joel denied that and would later confirm that the song was written about his mother, noting that the lyric “Sometimes I feel that this godfather deal is all wrong – How can she hold an umbilical cord for so long” should have been a tip-off.

An interesting little quirk of musical history – he concludes the song with the uber-co-dependent lines “If she had to she would put herself in my chair – Even though I faced electrocution.” This is the exact same image that Bruce Springsteen uses in the title track on his Nebraska album, released the same year, though the effects are radically different in the two songs.