November 2, 1973 — Billy Joel releases “Piano Man”

“Piano Man” was Joel’s first bona fide hit – in the years since its release, it has become so synonymous with him that he is now frequently called ‘the piano man.’ The song was written by Joel in 1973, as he played barroom piano under an assumed name and licked his wounds after the commercial failure of his first album, and draws on that experience heavily, although most of the characters in the song are composites or entirely fictional.

The single version of the song was cut down for time by the record company, who spliced two verses together in an effort to get it down to what was considered a commercial length. Ironically, today it is far more likely that the full album version will be played on the radio, and the song is a staple of golden oldies stations everywhere.

Piano Man

The Old Man died in 1979. His wake was held at the bar, and Bill played “Danny Boy” to close it out. It was the last song he ever played there.

John at the bar was wrong – he couldn’t be a movie star. However, a night helping cover for a certain piano player when he had a sore throat revealed a previously unknown talent – John was a really good singer. He never made it big on the pop charts, but he did make it big on Broadway throughout the Eighties and Nineties, eventually becoming a mentor figure to the likes of Neil Patrick Harris and Lin-Manual Miranda.

Paul the real estate novelist finally finished his great American novel in 1997. So far, 15 publishers have passed on it – although SyFy has expressed an interest in adapting it for television.

Davy did stay in the Navy for life. He served with distinction, rising the rank of Lieutenant before he retired in 2009. He wrote a well-regarded book on tactics of submarine warfare in the 21st century, and occasionally pops up as a military expert talking head on cable tv.

The Waitress stopped practising politics and got serious about it. In 1982, she was elected to her municipal council, and in 1992, she rode Bill Clinton’s coat tails into a congressional seat that she held until 2016. After the end of her political career, she sat down to write her memoirs, but discovered that she greatly preferred writing children’s books (which were also – mostly – less controversial).

The Businessmen are mostly retired or dead of cocaine overdoses now, but their successors can be found in the same bar, at the same time, doing the same things.

Bill became a high school music teacher in Shermer, Illinois.

…and the piano sounds like a piano, and the microphone smells like a microphone.