Glass Houses

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This article is about the album by Billy Joel. For the Yorkshire village, see Glasshouses. For other uses, see The Glass House.
Glass Houses
Studio album by Billy Joel
Released March 10, 1980
Recorded 1979
Genre Rock, new wave[1][2]
Length 35:06
Label Family Productions/Columbia
Producer Phil Ramone
Billy Joel chronology
52nd Street
Glass Houses
Songs in the Attic
Back cover (some versions)
On the LP and some CD releases, Joel is shown looking through a hole after throwing a rock in the glass house. This is also seen on the front cover of some of the single releases from this album.
Singles from Glass Houses
  1. "All for Leyna"
    Released: 1980
  2. "You May Be Right"
    Released: 1980
  3. "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me"
    Released: 1980
  4. "Don't Ask Me Why"
    Released: 1980
  5. "Sometimes a Fantasy"
    Released: 1980
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[3]
Rolling Stone (Bad)[4]
Smash Hits 8/10[5]

Glass Houses is the seventh studio album by American singer-songwriter Billy Joel, released on March 10, 1980. It features Joel's first song to peak at #1 on Billboard's Pop Singles chart, "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me." The album itself topped the Pop Albums chart for six weeks and was ranked number 4 on Billboard's 1980 year-end album chart.[6] The album is the 41st best selling album of the 1980s, with sales of 7.1 million copies in the US alone. In 1981, Joel won a Grammy Award for "Best Male Rock Vocal Performance" for his work on Glass Houses.[7]


This album was the third collaboration between Joel and producer Phil Ramone, following The Stranger and 52nd Street.

Opening with the sound of glass shattering, Glass Houses has more of a hard rock feel than Joel's previous albums. The cover shows Joel poised to throw a rock through the two-story window of his real-life waterfront glass house in Oyster Bay. On some versions, the back cover shows Billy looking through the hole that the rock made in the glass. This alludes to the adage that "people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."

Some reviewers, like Stephen Thomas Erlewine, believe that the album was Joel's response to New Wave and punk rock (Joel does reference both New Wave and punk rock in the lyrics of the song "It's Still Rock & Roll To Me"). Erlewine concludes, "[The album] may not be punk -- then again, it may be his concept of punk -- but Glass Houses is the closest Joel ever got to a pure rock album."[1]

In 2004, the pop-culture journalist and rock critic Chuck Klosterman praised the album in an essay on Joel titled "Every Dog Must Have His Every Day, Every Drunk Must Have His Drink" from his book Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (the title of the essay refers to a line from the Glass Houses song "Don't Ask Me Why")[8] In particular, Klosterman praised some of the more obscure tracks from the album including "All for Leyna", "I Don't Want to Be Alone", "Sleeping with the Television On", and "Close to The Borderline."

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Billy Joel.

Side one
  1. "You May Be Right" – 4:15
  2. "Sometimes a Fantasy" – 3:40
  3. "Don't Ask Me Why" – 2:59
  4. "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me" – 2:57
  5. "All for Leyna" – 4:15
Side two
  1. "I Don't Want to Be Alone" – 3:57
  2. "Sleeping with the Television On" – 3:02
  3. "C'était Toi (You Were the One)" – 3:25
  4. "Close to the Borderline" – 3:47
  5. "Through the Long Night" – 2:43


  • Billy Joel – synthesizers, harmonica, acoustic & electric pianos, accordion, vocals
  • Dave Brown – acoustic guitar, electric guitar
  • Richie Cannata – organ, flute, saxophone
  • Liberty DeVitto – drums & percussion
  • Russell Javors – acoustic guitar, electric guitar
  • Doug Stegmeyer – bass guitar


  • Producers: Phil Ramone
  • Engineer: Jim Boyer
  • Assistant engineer: Bradshaw Leigh
  • Mastering: Ted Jensen
  • Photography: Jim Houghton


Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Recipient Award Result
1981 Glass Houses Best Rock Vocal Performance - Male[7] Won
Album of the Year[9] Nominated

American Music Awards[edit]

Year Recipient Award Result
1981 Glass Houses Favorite Pop/Rock Album[10] Won
Billy Joel (performer) Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist[10] Nominated


Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[31] 5× Platinum 350,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[32] 5× Platinum 500,000^
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[33] Gold 7,500*
Japan (Oricon Charts) 317,000[34]
New Zealand (RMNZ)[35] Platinum 15,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[36] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[37] 7× Platinum 7,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ a b Thomas, Stephen. "Glass Houses - Billy Joel". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  2. ^ "Glass Houses Review | Billy Joel | Compact Discs | Reviews @". Retrieved 2013-08-26. 
  3. ^ Glass Houses at AllMusic
  4. ^ "Billy Joel: Glass Houses: Music Reviews: Rolling Stone". 2008-02-28. Archived from the original on 2008-02-28. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  5. ^ Cranna, Ian. "Billy Joel: Glass Houses". Smash Hits (April 3–16, 1980): 31. 
  6. ^ a b " - Year End Charts - Year-end Albums - The Billboard 200". Retrieved 2008-09-11. 
  7. ^ a b "Past Winners Search". Retrieved 2011-11-01. 
  8. ^ Klosterman, Chuck. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs Scribner, 2004.
  9. ^ "GRAMMYs' Best Albums 1980–1989". Retrieved 2011-11-01. 
  10. ^ a b "8th American Music Awards". Retrieved 2011-11-01. 
  11. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  12. ^ " Billy Joel - Glass Houses". Hung Medien (in German). Retrieved 2011-11-01. 
  13. ^ Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 2011-11-01
  14. ^ " Billy Joel - Glass Houses". Hung Medien, (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved 2011-11-01. 
  15. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste" (in French). Retrieved 2011-11-01. 
  16. ^ a-ビリー・ジョエル "- Yamachan Land (Archives of the Japanese record charts) - Albums Chart Daijiten - Billy Joel" (in Japanese). 2007-12-30. Retrieved 2011-11-01. 
  17. ^ " - Billy Joel - Glass Houses". Hung Medien, Recording Industry Association of New Zea Land. Retrieved 2011-11-01. 
  18. ^ " Billy Joel - Glass Houses". Hung Medien, VG-lista. Retrieved 2011-11-01. 
  19. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  20. ^ " Billy Joel - Glass Houses". Hung Medien, (in Swedish). Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 2011-11-01. 
  21. ^ "Chart Stats - Billy Joel - Glass Houses". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 2011-11-01. 
  22. ^ "allmusic ((( Glass Houses > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". Retrieved 2011-11-01. 
  23. ^ "Album Search: Billy Joel" (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 2011-11-01. 
  24. ^ " - Jahreshitparade 1980" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 2011-10-04. 
  25. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1980". RPM. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  26. ^ "Les Albums (CD) de 1980 par InfoDisc" (PHP) (in French). Retrieved 4 February 2012. 
  27. ^ 1980年アルバム年間ヒットチャート "Japanese Year-End Albums Chart 1980" (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved 2011-09-12. 
  28. ^ "Complete UK Year-End Album Charts". Retrieved 2011-10-04. 
  29. ^ "Top 100 Albums of 1981". RPM. 26 December 1981. Retrieved 6 December 2010. 
  30. ^ "Top Pop Albums of 1981". 1981-12-31. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  31. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1980 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. 
  32. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Billy Joel – Glass Houses". Music Canada. 
  33. ^ "IFPIHK Gold Disc Award − 1983". IFPI Hong Kong. 
  34. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970-2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9. 
  36. ^ "British album certifications – Billy Joel – Glass Houses". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Glass Houses in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  37. ^ "American album certifications – Billy Joel – Glass Houses". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
Preceded by
The Wall by Pink Floyd
Canadian RPM number-one album
May 10 - June 28, 1980
Succeeded by
Emotional Rescue
by The Rolling Stones
Preceded by
Against the Wind by Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band
Billboard 200 number-one album
June 14 - July 25, 1980