Billy Joel – “Just The Way You Are”

In this edition of Rhodes on Record, we explore an intimate piece of music by Grammy Award-winning Billy “Piano Man” Joel. 

Billy Joel, an American singer, songwriter, and composer, owes much of his international acclaim to his hit song “Just The Way You Are.” Featuring on his fifth studio album ‘The Stranger’ released in 1977. “Just The Way You Are” captured the hearts of fans worldwide and quickly became one of Joel’s most notable songs. It was a huge commercial success, reaching the US Top 10 and UK Top 20 singles charts.

In the recording studio, Linda Ronstadt told Joel, “That’s one of the greatest songs I’ve ever heard,” many agreed with this, including the Recording Academy, which gave Joel the Grammys for Song and Record of the Year in 1979. Even former Beatle Paul Mccartney admitted in the ‘Club Sandwich’ in 1994 that it was a track he admired and wished he had written it himself.

The beautiful, almost water-like melody of the Rhodes performed by Joel is present throughout this iconic song. “Just The Way You Are” was intentionally a loving tribute written for his first wife for her birthday. Joel admitted to USA Today that the tune and the chord progression came to him in a dream but was forgotten. A couple of weeks later, it came back to him in the middle of a business meeting. He had to run to get home and get it written with his first wife in mind.

“I dreamt the melody, not the words. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and going, ‘This is a great idea for a song.” … the dream reoccurs to me… And I said, ‘I have to go!’ I got home, and I ended up writing it all in one sitting.” – Billy Joel

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