Saturday, November 12, 1977

Billy Joel charted with “Just the Way You Are”

Just the Way You Are

Billy Joel

Writer(s): Billy Joel (see lyrics here)

First Charted: November 12, 1977

Peak: 3 US, 7 CB, 3 GR, 3 HR, 2 RR, 14 AC, 1 CL, 19 UK, 2 CN, 6 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 66.17 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Billy Joel had thirty three top-40 hits, ten of which reached the top 10. When he had his breakout hit with “Piano Man” in 1973, he’d already been recording and performing since 1965. It wasn’t until 1977 and “Just the Way You Are,” though, that he landed his first top-10 hit in the United States and first chart entry period in the UK. It also topped the Billboard adult contemporary chart and won Grammys for Record and Song of the Year.

Joel said the melody and chord progression came to him in a dream. He also shared that the title was inspired the last line of “Rag Doll” by the Four Seasons. He wrote the song for Elizabeth Weber, his then-wife and business manager. WK He gave the “pure expression of unconditional love” to her as a birthday present. SF

Unfortunately, the two divorced in 1982, after which time Joel said he didn’t like playing the song live. WK He said, “Every time I wrote a song for a person I was in a relationship with, it didn’t last. It was kind of like the curse. Here’s your song – we might as well say goodbye now.” SF

Neither he nor the band liked the song. He said it was a “gloppy ballad” that would only get played at weddings. “It wasn’t even rock ‘n’ roll; it was like a standard with a little bit of R&B in it. It reminded me of an old Stevie Wonder recording.” SF He’d decided against including it on The Stranger, but Linda Ronstadt and Phoebe Snow, who were both recording in other studios in the same building, encouraged him to put it on the album. WK Phil Ramone, the album’s producer, said they couldn’t afford to exclude the song because they didn’t have that much material to choose from. WK Paul McCartney has said it is one of the few songs he wished he’d written. SF

A variety of artists have covered the song, including Harry Connick Jr., Isaac Hayes, Diana Krall, Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams, Willie Nelson, Frank Sinatra, and Barry White.


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First posted 3/16/2021; last updated 11/26/2022.

The Sex Pistols hit #1 in the U.K.

Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols

The Sex Pistols

Released: October 28, 1977

Peak: 106 US, 12 UK, -- CN, 23 AU

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.6 UK, 1.6 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: punk rock


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to charts.

  1. Holidays in the Sun (Cook/ Jones/ Rotten/ Vicious) [3:20] (10/14/77, 20 CL, 5 CO, 8 UK 18 DF)
  2. Bodies (Cook/ Jones/ Rotten/ Vicious) [3:02] (16 CO)
  3. No Feelings [2:49] (18 DF)
  4. Liar [2:40] (27 DF)
  5. Problems [4:10] (32 DF)
  6. God Save the Queen [3:18] (5/27/77, 1 CL, 1 CO, 2 UK, 4 DF)
  7. Seventeen [2:02]
  8. Anarchy in the U.K. [3:31] (11/26/76, 1 CL, 1 CO, 33 UK, 92 AU, 6 DF)
  9. Submission [4:12] (35 CL, 29 CO, 27 DF)
  10. Pretty Vacant [3:16] (7/1/77, 5 CL, 4 CO, 6 UK, 13 DF)
  11. New York [3:05]
  12. E.M.I. [3:10] (19 DF)

All songs written by Cook/ Jones/ Matlock/ Rotten unless otherwise noted.

Total Running Time: 38:44

The Players:

  • Johnny Rotten (vocals)
  • Steve Jones (guitar, bass, backing vocals)
  • Paul Cook (drums)
  • Glen Matlock (bass on “Anarchy in the UK”)
  • Sid Vicious (bass on “Bodies”)


4.563 out of 5.00 (average of 28 ratings)


“Punk as a statement-of-purpose…begins with these guys.” – Joe S. Harrington, Blastitude


(Click on award to learn more).

Punk’s Ground Zero

“Punk as a statement-of-purpose…begins with these guys.” JSH “For better and worse, this thirty-nine-minute blast of loud and proud scruffiness has become punk’s ground zero” TM or “the Sermon on the Mount of English punk — and the echoes are everywhere.” RS “No other band managed such a colossal reputation on the basis of such a brief resume.” VH1

“That's not to say it’s the best punk record, or even necessarily the first. But it was the first one to tantalize, to terrorize, and eventually galvanize a large part of the rock-speaking world.” TM It was “a shot of strychnine for a tottering empire” VH1 and where “British rock rediscovered its energy.” TB

Only One Album

“One album was all they made, and probably all anyone could stand” TL “but every song is a keeper, an absolute masterpiece.” JSH It became “one of the decade’s most important recordings.” CS “They totally answered the call, lived up to the hype and all that.” JSH “It would’ve been more shocking if the Pistols stuck around long enough to make a second LP. Every marketing gimmick has a shelf-life and the Pistols’ was particularly short.” PM

Never Mind the Bollocks is simply one of the greatest, most inspiring rock records of all time.” AM “No one inspired the revolution, chaos and hatred of the world like The Sex Pistols.” RV

Why It Was So Important

Punk “was founded on the frustrations of youth who felt abandoned by their virtuosic rock heroes.” CS “At a time when lofty virtuosos like Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Pink Floyd were filling the airwaves with all sorts of well-crafted pretention, the Pistols came blasting out with poorly played (and even more poorly sung) three-chord guitar assaults” PK which had a “garage rehearsal atmosphere.” PR

“While mostly accurate, dismissing Never Mind the Bollocks as merely a series of loud, ragged mid-tempo rockers with a harsh, grating vocalist and not much melody would be a terrible error.” AM “Underneath the shock tactics and theatrical negativity were social critiques carefully designed for maximum impact. Never Mind the Bollocks perfectly articulated the frustration, rage, and dissatisfaction of the British working class with the establishment” AM as it “picks the scabs from the seamier side of society.” PR

“The Pistols paved the way for countless other bands to make similarly rebellious statements, but arguably none were as daring or effective.” AM They unleashed “an undeniable force, leading to explosions of awesome magnitude that proved key to the then-developing ethos of punk.” TM The Pistols’ “loud, snotty and angry” ZS approach created “an us-against-them ideology that disaffected kids everywhere understood immediately” TM and “a spirit quick to translate itself to strictly rock & roll terms.” AM It influenced “a wide swath of alternative acts over the next two decades.” CS

The Band

The Sex Pistols were “generally getting nowhere” CS until they tapped Malcom McLaren, who ran a London clothing store called SEX, to manage them. He had briefly managed the New York Dolls in the United States. He convinced original singer Steve Jones to step down, focusing instead on his “buzz-saw guitar” AZ which made “the songs explosive and catchy.” TL

He brought in John Lydon (aka “Johnny Rotten”) as the new lead singer. He had no experience but “made up for [it] in presence and attitude, screaming lyrics at the audience rather than to them…and confronting the pretension of pop music with headline-making comments and antics at every opportunity.” CS “Already anthemic songs are rendered positively transcendent by Johnny Rotten’s rabid, foaming delivery.” AM He “had a gift for malice that he turned on the complacent England of the 70s.” TL “His bitterly sarcastic attacks on pretentious affectation and the very foundations of British society were all carried out in the most confrontational, impolite manner possible.” AM He was “self-consciously repugnant” VH1 and “deeply bright, funny and so disgusted with the world that he allowed no nonsense of any sort to taint the purity of his guerrilla operation.” VH1 His “lyrics – direct, blunt, biting – were like antisocial haikus” VH1 and his “off-key sneering” TB made for “one of the most recognizable [vocal styles] in history.” TB

Original bassist Glen Matlock brought his “hook-filled compositional skills” AZ to the band but he was booted for “being a little too clean and talented” CS before the band released their sole album. Enter “tragic sideshow” TL John Ritchie (aka “Sid Vicious”), a fan of the group “who matched Rotten’s punk aesthetic and attitude to a T, but was so bad on his instrument that they kept his amplifier unplugged during many of their performances.” CS His contributions to the recording of the Bollocks album were “virtually nil.” CC He and Rotten came “to symbolize the energy, angst, and choreographed rebellion of mid-1970s London punk.” CS

The quartet was rounded out by drummer Paul Cook, who with Jones, “were essentially locked at the hip ala the Asheton brothers (the obvious prototype)” JSH from the Stooges. Together the four “made old-fashioned rock bad boys such as The Rolling Stones and The Who look like wimps in comparison.” RV


“Half their gigs turned into brawls and the other half were cancelled by local authorities.” CS “Recognizing that there’s no such thing as bad publicity” AZ McLaren “seized upon the notoriety, using television appearances and outrageous altercations with media to fan the flames” TM as he “molded the Pistols into the most confrontational, nihilistic band rock & roll had ever seen.” AZ Anyone over the age of 20—which was older than anyone in the group at the time—held certain reservations about their innate nastiness.” JSH

“Who cares if they were as manufactured as the Monkees, derivative of the New York Dolls, and better at getting press coverage than coming up with new songs – everyone who heard them went out and started a punk band, and the music world’s been a better place as a result.” PK

Making the Album

For all the controversy surrounding the Sex Pistols, none of it “would have worked were Never Mind the Bollocks less than brilliant.” CM The group released four singles, three of which reached the UK top 10, before their one and only album. This “raised the stakes month-by-month so that when the album finally materialized it was with baited breath that everyone approached it.” JSH

The album was recorded from October 1976 through August 1977. It was produced by Chris Thomas, who’d previously worked with Roxy Music. They changed bassists and recording companies during the process. There was a lawsuit regarding the use of the “bollocks” and whether it was obsene which incited pressing plant workers not to make it, radio stations not to play it, and record stores not to stock it. CS None of it daunted demand dor the album, which logged 125,000 presale orders CC and debuted at #1 on the UK charts.

The Cover

The album cover was designed by Jamie Reid, an artist hired by Malcolm McLaren. “He chose garish colours for the album cover, using cut-up newspaper headlines for type, in the style of urban terrorists sending letters of demand. Reid’s style was as startling as the music and he gave punk an iconography.” CM

The Songs

Here are thoughts on the individual songs from the album.

“Holidays in the Sun”
Holidays in the Sun, the band’s fourth single, was written in Berlin in March 1977. CC The song was built on a riff that bore a striking similarity to the Jam’s “In the City.” CC 60,000 copies of the original cover of the single had to be withdrawn to avoid copyright infringement because it featured a collage based on a brochure fro the Belgian Travel Service. CC

The song used the Berlin Wall as a “metaphor for the authoritian boundaries found in any political system.” CC It “equates Nazism with the leisure activities of the upper classes: ‘I don’t want a holiday in the sun / I wanna go to the new Belsen,’ a reference to the German concentration camp. The song shows the Pistols at their finest” RV – “something offensive to hear…and more offensive to ignore.” TL

“Bodies” was “the fastest song the Sex Pistols ever recorded” CC and the last recorded for the Bollocks album. CC The song tackles abortion “with the lyrics taking the point of view of the mother, the fetus and a judgmental on-looker.” RV Given “the band's liberal views, ‘Bodies’ comes off as surprisingly pro-life” RV although Johnny Rotten’s “Catholic upbringing must have made him particularly sensitive to the subject.” CC

The song was reportedly inspired by some punk mythology that a girl showed up at gigs with an aborted fetus in her bag. Pauline, a follower of the band who’d spent time in an asylum, was one who “spun the abortion tale” CC and Rotten embellished her tale, “darting cleverly from first to third person during the song, before its anguished…concluding cry of ‘Mummy, I’m not an animal.’” CC

“No Feelings”
“No Feelings” “began life as a gritty, New York-inspired Steve Jones riff, but it was Rotten’s lyrics that transformed the song into a virtual punk manifesto.” CC It was one of three original Sex Pistols song that they taped at their first recording session in May 1976. CC The version that became a B-side for “God Save the Queen” was recorded in July 1976 at the band’s Denmark Street rehearsal studio. CC

The Pistols “perfected one of rock’s great subgenres: the anthem of sneering indolence. No Feelings, Liar, and Pretty Vacant all portrayed Britain’s youth as numbed and hollowed out by hypocrisy and lack of opportunity, offering nothing by way of consolation but a blast of guitar and a keening snarl.” VH1 “Liar” was “aimed at no one and everyone. It scowled where before it might have shrugged.” CC It was a collaboration between Rotten and Matlock durin the summer of 1976. CC

“God Save the Queen”
“The Pistols’ early singles Anarchy in the U.K. and God Save the Queen defined the raging style of British punk.” AZ The latter “must go down in history as the Sex Pistols’ finest moment.” CC With “itts snarled refrains and bellicose chants” TM this “anti-national anthem” CC dared to “voice the opinion that the monarch ‘ain’t no human bein’” TL and that people are morons if they “remain obedient to a system where a quirk of birthright dictates who holds the wealth and power.” CC “The ferocity of the sound easily matched Rotten’s spumatic assault.” CC

“The Pistols released the song in time for the Queen’s Jubilee in celebration of Queen Elizabeth as an indictment the country's inability to provide for the working class.” RV The song “roared its displeasure at the pompous pageantry by presenting its very own State of the Nation address. Its conclusion was loud and clear: No Future.” CC

It was infamously promoted via a June 7 boat trip down the Thames river that ended in arrests and threats from “Her Majesty’s most loyal subjects to take up bars and bottles and hund down the perpetrators of the record.” CC

When the song reached #2 on the UK charts, some shops refused to acknowledge its existence, “leaving the position blank on thei Top 20 wall displays.” CC

“Problems” dates back to a late 1975 rehearsal, making it one of the Sex Pistols’ earliest originals. CC The song “epitomized the punk world view in a single word” CC and encapsulated how Rotten felt about being in a band. CC He said in 1980 it was his favorite Sex Pistols song. CC

“The hilariously knuckle-headed SeventeenTB became “an anthem for the burgeoning dole-queue culture that had been fostered by the decade’s series of economic crises.” CC It was written by Jones with some help from Matlock. It predated the arrival of Rotten.

It was not one of their “more enduring records, being little more than a one-line joke.” CC Rotten said it was “the most abysmal song I’ve ever heard.” CC

“Anarchy in the U.K.”
“Anarchy in the U.K.,” the Sex Pistols’ “manifesto of doubtful conviction,” CC was the group’s introduction to the world as their first single. It didn’t last long. It was released in November 1976 but pulled by January 1977 when record label succumbed to public pressure and fired the group. CC

It supposedly grew out of Jones’ suggestion that the band needed a theme song. CC It worked. It “summed up the band’s ‘fuck-the-system’ approach, strong enough with which to open (and often close) their shows, and memorable enough for audiences to go home energized buy what sounded like a virtual call to arms.” CC

The song “embodies everything revolutionary rock ‘n’ roll should be. Raunchy riffs and throbbing percussion underline Rotten’s declaration, ‘I am an antichrist / I am an anarchist.’” RV Rotten sings those words “taunting, accustarory and with an abandon rarely heard in British rock.” CC

“The sinister SubmissionTB is “the rogue element in the Sex Pistols’ Bollocks portfolio.” CC McLaren suggested the song, wanting something to promote his SEX shop, which sold fetish clothing. Rotten, however, turned it into a song about a submarine mission. CC It grew out of Rotten and Matlock’s mutual admiration of the Doors’ “Hello, I Love You” and the Kinks’ “All Day and All of the Night.” CC

“Pretty Vacant”
EMI understandably wanted “Pretty Vacant” to be the follow-up single to “Anarchy in the U.K.” “It’s the most conventional, and certainly the most commercial song, on the album.” CC The song “perfectly captured the attitude of disaffected youth.” CM It ended up as their third single, after “God Save the Queen.” While both of those songs “sent shivers down the nation’s collective spine, the message of ‘Pretty Vacant’ was more ‘lovable rogue’ than lynchable renegades.” CC

The song is practically all Matlock’s. He says it was inspired by stories McLaren told about his time in New York managing the New York Dolls. Matlock shared that he saw the song title “( Belong to the) Blank Generation” on a handbill for a Richard Hell Television gig and decided “that’s the kind of feeling that we want to get across in our songs.” CC

“New York”
This was “one of the most pointedly contemptuous songs the Pistols ever wrote – and everything suggests the finger was pointed in Malcolm McLaren’s direction,” CC specifically his stint managing the New York Dolls, “his failed anti-heroes from America.” CC “New York” references songs of the Dolls and serves as a put-down of their contributions to punk. CC

The group also burned bridges with a kiss-off to previous record company A&M and “an earlier bust-up with EMI” TB on the not-so-subtly-titled EMI closing track. “It was unheard of: bands rarely mentioned their record companies – business was a dirty word in the rafefied world of rock artists – let alone write entire songs that badmouthed them.” CC

There was initially a frenzy to sign the band after their performance at the 100 Club Punk Festival on September 20, 1976. CC EMI had landed the band by October 8. CC Of course, after the controversy of first single “Anarchy in the U.K.” the label dropped the band.

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First posted 3/23/2008; last updated 7/20/2024.