It’s Billy Joel‘s golden anniversary as an artist: 50 years ago, on November 1, 1971, his first album, Cold Spring Harbor, was released. Here are some things you may not know about the record that first introduced us to Billy’s talents:
–The album was named after a hamlet on the north shore of Long Island, New York, near where Billy grew up. The cover photo shows him standing on Harbor Road in Cold Spring Harbor.
—In 2011, Billy said he made Cold Spring Harbor because he wanted other artists to hear his songs and record them; he was advised the best way to do that was to make an album of them and then go on the road.
–One of the songs on the album, “Tomorrow Is Today,” was inspired by the depression Billy had gone through the year before, which culminated in him attempting suicide by drinking furniture polish, followed by a hospital stay to recover.
–Due to a technical error, the Cold Spring Harbor master tapes were transferred to vinyl at the wrong speed, making Billy sound, he said, “like a chipmunk.” It was finally remastered in 1983, but Billy still thinks he sounds like a chipmunk.
–Cold Spring Harbor flopped, but when Billy included a few of its songs on his 1981 live album Songs in the Attic, one of them, “She’s Got a Way,” became a top-40 hit — 10 years after he first recorded it.
–In 2011, when Billy’s catalog was reissued as a box set, he said of Cold Spring Harbor, “You don’t have to pay a lot of attention to this one. It’s the embryonic Billy Joel, I suppose.”
Here’s the full track list of Cold Spring Harbor:
“She’s Got a Way”
“You Can Make Me Free”
“Everybody Loves You Now”
“Why Judy Why”
“Falling of the Rain”
“You Look So Good to Me”
“Tomorrow Is Today”
“Got to Begin Again”
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