- Writer: Billy Joel
- Producer: Phil Ramone
- Recorded: Spring-summer 1977 at A&R Recording in New York City
- Released: Fall 1977
Billy Joel -- vocals, keyboards
Doug Stegmeyer -- bass
Hiram Bullock -- guitar
Liberty DeVitto -- drums
Richie Canatta -- woodwinds
Steve Zahn -- guitar
Patrick Williams -- orchestrations
- Album: The Stranger (Columbia, 1977)
- Also On:
Greatest Hits Volume I And Volume II (1973-1985) (Columbia, 1985)
Kohuept (Live In Leningrad) (Columbia, 1987)
The Complete Hits Collection 1974-1997 (Columbia, 1997)
Greatest Hits, Vols. I, II & III (Columbia, 2000)
2000 Years -- The Millennium Concert (Columbia, 2000)
The Essential Billy Joel (Columbia, 2001)
- A native of Long Island, New York, Billy Joel tried his hand at boxing before settling on a career in music. He told Billboard, "I became a musician partly because of my physical limitations. I wasn't tall. I don't have Cary Grant looks. I had to transcend somehow, so when I'm in the studio and I'm free to move, I'm six-foot-six and I look like Cary Grant."
- Joel had been recording for six years before The Stranger album broke through to a mass audience, starting with the hit ballad "Just The Way You Are."
- "Only The Good Die Young" is a plea for sexual favors from a "good" Catholic girl. The song didn't amuse some Catholics, and priests spoke out against the song.
- Of the controversy surrounding the song, Joel has denied that "Only The Good Die Young" is anti-Catholic. He also says he isn't religious -- "I still feel very much like an atheist in the religious aspect of things. But there are spiritual planes that I'm aware of that I don't know anything about, that I can't explain."
- "Only The Good Die Young" peaked at Number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remains one of Joel's most popular radio songs.
- The Stranger peaked at Number Two on the Billboard 200. It was also Joel's first million-seller, and has sold more than ten million copies.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Joel stopped recording pop music after 1993's River Of Dreams and has devoted himself to classical and instrumental music ever since, though he did release a one-off pop song called "All My Life" earlier this year. He put out his first classical album in 2001 and has said he'll continue in that vein.
- Joel continues to tour periodically, both by himself and with Elton John in their Face To Face concerts.
- Joel has received career citations from the publishing house ASCAP; the Songwriters Hall Of Fame; the Grammys, which gave him the Living Legend Award in 1990; Billboard magazine, which gave him its Century Award in 1994; and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, when he was inducted by his idol Ray Charles.
- A stage production called Movin' Out, which paired Joel's music with choreography by Twyla Tharp, had a very successful run on Broadway in New York City. Joel shared the Tony Award for Best Orchestrations with Stuart Malina.
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