Just the Way You Are (Billy Joel song)

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"Just the Way You Are"
Single by Billy Joel
from the album The Stranger
B-side "Get It Right the First Time"
Released September 1977
Format 7" single
Recorded 1977
Genre Pop rock, soft rock
Length 4:47 (album version)
3:36 (single version)
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Billy Joel
Producer(s) Phil Ramone
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Billy Joel singles chronology
"The Entertainer"
(1974)
"Just the Way You Are"
(1977)
"Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)"
(1977)
Billy Joel's "Just The Way You Are" from The Stranger

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"Just the Way You Are" is a song by Billy Joel and the third track from his 1977 album The Stranger. It was Joel's first US Top 10 (reaching #3) and UK Top 20 single, as well as Joel's first gold single in the US.

"Just the Way You Are", which won the 1979 Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year, turned Joel's chart career, which had largely stalled out by early 1975, into long-lasting success. The song also coincidentally tied another of his #3 hits, his last US Top 10 single, "The River of Dreams", for most weeks on the Hot 100 of any of his singles, at 27.

Background[edit]

In an interview on the Howard Stern Radio Show on November, 16th, 2010, Joel revealed that the inspiration for writing this tune (more specifically the name of the song and how it sounds in the chorus) was directly taken from the last line in the Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons song "Rag Doll;" which incidentally was also a larger inspiration for Joel's later song, "Uptown Girl". [1] The song, which Joel had written for his first wife (and also his business manager at the time) Elizabeth Weber, was not liked by either Joel or his band, and Joel had originally decided against making the track a part of the album. But Joel has stated that, at the request of both Linda Ronstadt and Phoebe Snow (both were recording in other studios in the same building at the time), Joel agreed to put the song on the final mix.[2] However, the album's producer, Phil Ramone, later contradicted Joel's claim, stating in an interview that they could not afford to exclude the song because Joel did not have that much material to choose from for the album.[3]

After Joel and Weber split in 1982, Joel rarely performed the song live after 1986 until the 2000s, and Joel has publicly stated that he disliked playing the song live in the wake of his divorce from his first wife. He noted that during performances of the song around the time of his first divorce, his drummer Liberty DeVitto would jokingly parody the lyrics in the chorus as "She got the house. She got the car."[4]

When "Just the Way You Are" was released as a single, it was shortened by over a minute. The differences are the removal of the second verse and an earlier fade. A live performance of the song was also used as a music video. On February 18, 1978, the song peaked at #3, and Joel performed a shorter version of the song as the musical guest that day on Saturday Night Live (along with "Only the Good Die Young"). The single version was included in the first release of Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II, but the full album version was restored for the remastered release of that compilation.

The song is unique for its use of an alto sax solo at the end. The solo was played by Phil Woods, a well-known jazz performer and Grammy award winner. Woods was criticized by some purists in the jazz community for playing on a rock session, but the performance exposed him to a wider audience and introduced his music to rock fans.[5]

Other versions[edit]

Since its initial release, the song has been covered by many musicians including José José, Mina, Barry White, Isaac Hayes, Diana Krall, Ahmad Jamal, Shirley Bassey, Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra, Jose Feliciano, Harry Connick, Jr., The Hi-Lo's,[6] the cast of Glee, Engelbert Humperdinck, Johnny Mathis, and Joel's daughter Alexa Ray. Joel performed a revised version of this song with lyrics by Tony Geiss on Sesame Street where he sang to Oscar the Grouch in 1988 along with Marlee Matlin who used sign language due to her deafness. Deana Martin recorded Just the Way You are in 2009. The song was released on her album, Volare, released in 2009 by Big Fish Records. Joel has performed the song as a duet in live performances with Elton John during their Face to Face tours together. In 2013, the renowned Spanish actress & singer Natalia Dicenta released a version of the song on her album Colours.

Track listing[edit]

7" U.S. and UK single (1977)
  1. "Just the Way You Are" - 3:27
  2. "Get It Right the First Time" - 3:54

Charts[edit]

Chart (1978) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[7] 6
Canada (RPM)[8] 2
Ireland (IRMA) 7
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[9] 6
South Africa (RiSA)[10] 6
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[11] 19
US Billboard Hot 100[12] 3
US Billboard Easy Listening[13] 1
Zimbabwe Singles (ZIMA)[14] 14

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1] Billy Joel interview on The Howard Stern Show (11/16/10)
  2. ^ Billy Joel - The Republican Interview
  3. ^ The Stranger: 30th Anniversary Edition. "Making of The Stranger Documentary. 2008
  4. ^ Rose, Charlie. "Billy Joel Interview." The Charlie Rose Show, 1993.
  5. ^ Gordon Bock, "Phil Woods' Sax Keeps Showing Up." Dallas Morning News, August 6, 1978, p. 8 C.
  6. ^ Lewis, Don. "Easy Listening: A Hi-Lo's High". The Milwaukee Journal. July 19, 1981. Retrieved March 6, 2014.
  7. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Billy Joel – Just the Way You Are". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  8. ^ Collectionscanada.gc.ca
  9. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Billy Joel – Just the Way You Are". Top 40 Singles.
  10. ^ ""Just the Way You Are" on the South African Singles Chart". Springbok Radio. July 28, 1978. Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Billy Joel: Artist Chart History" UK Singles Chart.
  12. ^ "Billy Joel Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for Billy Joel.
  13. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 127. 
  14. ^ * Zimbabwe. Kimberley, C. Zimbabwe: singles chart book. Harare: C. Kimberley, 2000

External links[edit]