Cold Spring Harbor (album)

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Cold Spring Harbor
Artwork from the 1983 reissue
Studio album by Billy Joel
Released November 1, 1971
Recorded July, 1971 at Record Plant Studios, Los Angeles, CA and
Ultrasonic Recording Studios, Hempstead, NY
Genre Soft rock
Length 33:07 (original)
29:53 (reissue)
Label Family Productions U.S. (1971)
Quality Records Canada (1971)
Philips U.K. (1971)
Columbia (1983)
Producer Artie Ripp
Billy Joel chronology
Cold Spring Harbor
Piano Man
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[1]

Cold Spring Harbor is the first solo album by American singer-songwriter Billy Joel, released on November 1, 1971. He had already released three albums as a member of the bands The Hassles (1966 to 1969) and Attila (1970).


Cold Spring Harbor was released by Family Productions, but through an error in the album's mastering, the songs played slightly too fast, causing Joel's voice to sound unnaturally high (a semitone higher—Joel joked that he sounded more like one of The Chipmunks than himself). According to a long standing rumor, when Joel first heard the finished product, he "ripped it off the turntable, ran out of the house, and threw [the record] down the street."[1] Artie Ripp, owner of Family Productions and hence the owner of the original master tapes, was responsible for the production error, and the mistake cost him his friendship with Joel. He had originally signed the then-unknown 22-year old Joel to a 10-record contract that stripped Joel of all rights to the original tapes and to the publishing rights to all current and future songs.[2]

As part of a deal with Columbia Records to release Joel from his record contract, Ripp was still able to collect large royalties on sales of Joel's biggest hit records long after Joel's acrimonious departure from Family Productions (up until 1986's The Bridge). Ripp only sold the publishing rights to Joel's song catalog back to Joel reluctantly after intense pressure from CBS/Columbia Records president Walter Yetnikoff who claimed he had to threaten Ripp to finalize the deal.[2][3][4] Nevertheless, Ripp was legally able to re-mix and re-release an updated version of the album in 1983 through Columbia Records without any involvement from Joel. In a 2011 interview with actor Alec Baldwin, Joel stated that despite the re-mix, he believes that the album still does not sound very good.

While the 1983 version is slowed down to the correct speed, many changes have been made to the original recording. String tracks arranged by Ripp and Jimmie Haskell were added to a few songs ("She's Got a Way", "Why Judy Why", and "You Can Make Me Free"), while "You Can Make Me Free" was truncated by nearly three minutes (removing most of the original tail-end, fadeout jam). The acoustic guitar and original drum track from "Everybody Loves You Now" were removed in favor of a new drum track performed by Mike McGee, and the pedal steel guitar and drums from "Turn Around" were edited out in favor of a new drum track by McGee and overdubbed keyboards by Al Campbell, as well as a Fender Rhodes piano played by L.D. Dixon. The original bass, drums, and orchestration for "Tomorrow Is Today" were also excised.

Song Info[edit]

Cold Spring Harbor was named after a hamlet of the same name in the town of Huntington, New York, a seaside community near Joel's hometown.

The lyrics of the song "Tomorrow Is Today" were derived from a note Joel had written when he tried to commit suicide by drinking furniture polish. He was found by his drummer and taken immediately to a hospital where his stomach was pumped.

Denny Seiwell of Wings was initially hired to play drums for the entire album, but early in the sessions he was called back to London by Paul McCartney to record a new song for the band, "Hi, Hi, Hi". Seiwell did play on two tracks that ultimately appeared on the LP.

Joel would release live versions of "She's Got a Way" and "Everybody Loves You Now" on the album Songs in the Attic in 1981. The first song was released as a single in early 1982, and peaked at number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[5]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Billy Joel.

No. Title Length
1. "She's Got a Way" (3:00 Original LP) 2:51
2. "You Can Make Me Free" (6:05 Original LP) 2:59
3. "Everybody Loves You Now" ((3:00 Original LP)) 2:49
4. "Why Judy Why" (3:05 Original LP) 2:58
5. "Falling of the Rain" (2:46 Original LP) 2:38
6. "Turn Around" (3:49 Original LP) 3:06
7. "You Look So Good to Me" (2:42 Original LP) 2:29
8. "Tomorrow Is Today" (5:20 Original LP) 4:40
9. "Nocturne" (2:48 Original LP) 2:46
10. "Got to Begin Again" (3:04 Original LP) 2:52



  • Producer: Artie Ripp
  • Executive producer: Irwin Mazur
  • Engineers: Larry Elliott, John Bradley, Artie Ripp
  • Second engineer: Michael Stone
  • Assistant engineer: Gordon Watanabe
  • Remixing: Artie Ripp (The actual mix engineer asked for his name to be left off the credits)
  • Original LP Mastering: Bob Huges
  • Original CD Mastering: Doug Sax
  • CD Remastered by Joseph Palmaccio at Sterling Sound (erroneously credited to Ted Jensen)
  • Editing: Artie Ripp, Larry Elliott
  • Director: Artie Ripp
  • Arrangers: Jimmie Haskell, Artie Ripp

Chart positions[edit]

Year (1984) Peak
Japanese Albums (Oricon)[6] 44
UK Albums (OCC)[7] 95
US Billboard 200[8][A] 158


  • A ^ Cold Spring Harbor peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Bubbling Under the Top LP's chart, which acts as a 16-album extension to the Billboard 200, when it was originally released in 1972.[9] The album was then re-issued by Columbia in December 1983. All chart positions listed for Cold Spring Harbor are for its reissue.


  1. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Cold Spring Harbor - Billy Joel". Allmusic. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
  2. ^ a b Bordowitz, Hank. Billy Joel: The Life and Times of an Angry Young Man. Billboard Books, 2006.
  3. ^ Interview with Yetnikoff. The Last Play at Shea (documentary film). 2010.
  4. ^ Last Play at Shea (2010). The New York Times. October 28, 2010.
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 8th Edition (Billboard Publications)
  6. ^ Okamoto, Satoshi (2011). Single Chart Book: Complete Edition 1968-2010 (in Japanese). Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. ISBN 4871310884. 
  7. ^ "Billy Joel | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. The Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  8. ^ "Cold Spring Harbor - Billy Joel: Awards". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved July 8, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Bubbling Under the Top LP's". Billboard (April 8, 1972): p. 45.  Accessed from July 8, 2013.