Albums of the ’80s: Billy Joel – An Innocent Man

index Now let’s jump ahead to 1983 to rediscover Billy Joel’s classic album – An -Innocent Man.
For long-time readers, this article may look familiar. Other than a few edits here, this article was originally posted on October 28, 2010 (wow, time flies!) as part of the old ‘Album Listening Party’ series. But, I believe this will be new to many people. And for my Awesome long-time readers, can you really get enough of Billy Joel? I think not!

And who could go wrong listening to An Innocent Man? Out of the 10 songs on the album, 7 were released as singles. Three of them were top 10 hits on Billboard – “Tell Her About It” (#1), “Uptown Girl” (#3), and “An Innocent Man” (#10). The other hits were “The Longest Time” (#14), “Leave a Tender Moment Alone” (#27), “Keeping the Faith” (#18) and “This Night” (#78 in the U.K).

The album is a tribute to the music of Billy Joel’s childhood, and pays homage to several styles of music. The hits from this album were in heavy rotation on MTV.

Easy Money

This song did not play on the radio, but it is my favorite song of the album, and probably one of my favorite Billy Joel songs. It was featured in the Rodney Dangerfield movie of the same name. This song pays homage to James Brown’s style. You can really hear it with the screams and grunts. It is very energetic.

An Innocent Man

This song peaked at #10 on the Billboard charts, and actually reached #1 on the Billboard adult contemporary chart. This musical style is an homage to Ben E. King and The Drifters. Joel was quoted in a 1997 interview describing a high note he sang during the song: “I had a suspicion that was going to be the last time I was going to be able to hit those notes, so why not go out in a blaze of glory? That was the end of Billy’s high note.” I really like this song, and did not get sick of it like I did with a couple of other songs off this album.
Here is Billy Joel performing the song live at Wembley at the height of the Innocent Man era. And it is not lost on me that he already had somebody hitting the high notes for him. Still a great song:

The Longest Time

This would be my second favorite song from the album. This is obviously a doo-wop song. When the song was on, I would sing the low bass part, and make my brother and sister crack up. Billy Joel actually sings the lead vocals and all backing vocals. The song reached #14 on the Billboard charts, and like “An Innocent Man”, this song reached #1 on the Billboard adult contemporary chart.

This Night

This song was released as a single only in the UK and Japan, reached #78 on the UK Singles Chart chart and #88 on the Japanese Oricon Singles Chart. So you may not have heard this song in the U.S. unless you listened to the album. Like “The Longest Time”, it is also a doo-wop style song. Joel has said in interviews that “This Night” was written about his brief relationship with supermodel Elle Macpherson, whom he dated just prior to second wife Christie Brinkley. And for you Classical music afficionados, the chorus of this song uses the second movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Pathétique Sonata. Beethoven is credited as one of the song’s writers on the sleeve of the album as “L.V. Beethoven”.

Tell Her About It

This was the first single released off of the album. This song is an homage to the Motown Sound. It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts for one week on September 24, 1983, replacing “Maniac” by Michael Sembello. At the end of the song in the video, comedian (and Easy Money star) Rodney Dangerfield is there preparing to go on “stage” thanking Joel for warming up the crowd.
This was a great single to lead off being released from the album. This is one of the songs I got sick of after a while. I’m liking it again now that time has passed.

Uptown Girl

This song was an homage to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. It reached #3 on the Billboard charts in the US,nd #1 in the UK, staying at that position for 5 weeks. It was also the second biggest selling single of 1983 in the United Kingdom behind only Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon”, which Joel had knocked off the number one position on November 1, 1983. The song was originally written about his relationship with his girlfriend, supermodel Elle Macpherson, but ended up becoming about his soon-wife Christie Brinkley. And as anybody who was around in 1983 can tell you, Christie Brinkley also starred in the video. Joel and Brinkley married in 1985 and divorced in 1994. Apparently, the song was missing from the setlist during Joel’s 1994 “River of Dreams” tour. This was the other song that I got sick of hearing after a while. But I like it a little more again.

Careless Talk

This song was not released as a single. This is also a good song. It pays homage Sam Cooke. Very good vocals.

Christie Lee

This was another song that was not released as a single. Gee, I wonder who this song is named after! This style pays homage to Jerry Lee Lewis.

Leave a Tender Moment Alone

This song reached only twenty-seven on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts and spent two weeks at number one for two weeks on the Adult Contemporary chart. It pays homage to Marvin Gaye. To me, it also gives the feel of an old Stevie Wonder song. It’s a very nice song. I like it a lot.

Keeping the Faith

This song reached #19 on the main US Billboard Hot 100 chart and #3 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. It was the last song on the album. This song pays homage to Bob Marley. The lyrics sum up why Joel created this album with the sounds and style of 1950s and early 1960s rock and roll music, with lines like:

“If it seems like I’ve been lost in let’s remember” and
“Now I told you my reasons for the whole revival”

2 thoughts on “Albums of the ’80s: Billy Joel – An Innocent Man”

  1. Easy Money should have been a chart-topper. That’s my favorite from this good album, too.

    My favorite album, though, is probably The Bridge.

    Like

    1. The Bridge will definitely be covered! “Running on Ice” is one of my favorite Billy Joel songs. There are some great songs on that album. I’m glad I’m not alone about “Easy Money” too!

      Like

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