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.

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