An Innocent Man

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An Innocent Man
BillyJoel AnInnocentMan.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedAugust 8, 1983 (1983-08-08)
RecordedChelsea Sound and A&R Recording, Inc., New York, NY Spring, 1983
LabelFamily Productions/Columbia
ProducerPhil Ramone
Billy Joel chronology
The Nylon Curtain
An Innocent Man
Greatest Hits, Vols. 1 & 2
Singles from An Innocent Man
  1. "Tell Her About It"
    Released: July 1983
  2. "Uptown Girl"
    Released: September 1983
  3. "An Innocent Man"
    Released: December 1983
  4. "The Longest Time"
    Released: March 1984
  5. "Leave a Tender Moment Alone"
    Released: July 1984
  6. "Keeping the Faith"
    Released: September 1984
  7. "This Night"
    Released: November 1984
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[1]
Christgau's Record GuideB+[2]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[3]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3.5/5 stars[4]

An Innocent Man is the ninth studio album by American singer-songwriter Billy Joel, released on August 8, 1983. The concept album is a tribute to the American popular music of Joel's adolescent years with Joel paying homage to a number of different and popular American musical styles from the late 1950s and early 1960s, most notably doo-wop and soul music.[5] The album cover artwork was taken on the front steps of 142 Mercer Street,[6] just north of the intersection of Mercer and Prince Street in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City.[7]

Chart performance[edit]

The album featured three Billboard Top 10 hit singles: "Tell Her About It" (No. 1), "Uptown Girl" (No. 3) and "An Innocent Man" (No. 10). Four other singles were released from the album: "The Longest Time" (No. 14), "Leave a Tender Moment Alone" (No. 27), "Keeping the Faith" (No. 18) and "This Night" (US B-side of "Leave a Tender Moment Alone"). "Tell Her About It" and "Uptown Girl" garnered international success—"Uptown Girl" reached No. 1 in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. An Innocent Man remained on the US Pop album chart for 111 weeks, becoming Joel's longest charting studio album behind The Stranger. For over a year, the album remained on the charts in the UK, Japan and Australia.


Like his three previous efforts, Joel's An Innocent Man received a nomination for the 26th Grammy Award for Album of the Year, although the award went to Michael Jackson's Thriller. The album was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "Uptown Girl," but again was beaten by Thriller.


In an interview about the making of the album, Joel talks about the fact that at the time that he was recording An Innocent Man, he was newly divorced from his first wife, Elizabeth Weber, and was single for the first time since achieving rock star status. He had the opportunity to date supermodels like Elle Macpherson and Christie Brinkley, and because of these experiences, he said, "I kind of felt like a teenager all over again."[5] Joel started writing songs in the same styles as pop songs that he remembered from his teenage years, citing pop music from the late 1950s and early 1960s, including "early R&B songs and The Four Seasons, and the Motown music, soul music." According to Joel, the various songs weren't meant to be autobiographical, and instead center around various made-up characters.[8]

Joel explained, "When you're gonna write [songs for a new album], you write what you're feeling. And I didn't fight it. The material was coming so easily and so quickly, and I was having so much fun doing it. I was kind of reliving my youth. ... I think within 6 weeks I had written most of the material on the album." Joel also said that he was pleasantly surprised to have hit records in the 1980s with retro songs like the mostly a cappella doo wop song "The Longest Time."[5] The song "Easy Money", which was made as a tribute to early R&B, was initially written for the 1983 film of the same name starring Rodney Dangerfield, and was the song that "kicked off" the creation of An Innocent Man, according to Joel.[8] Dangerfield later made a cameo appearance at the end of the music video for the song "Tell Her About It". The song "Christie Lee" describes a narrative about a saxophone player who has his heart broken by a woman he falls in love with, whom he later realizes is only interested in him for his saxophone skills.[8]

Track listing[edit]

All songs by Billy Joel, except for the chorus for "This Night," which is credited on the sleeve to L. v. Beethoven.

The track listing on the LP is slightly different from that on the cassette and original CD pressings, with the latter swapping the places of "The Longest Time" and "Uptown Girl" respectively. However, on the actual cassette shell and disc label, the songs are listed (and play) in the correct order as printed on the LP.

Side one
1."Easy Money" (Homage to James Brown and Wilson Pickett[5])4:04
2."An Innocent Man" (Homage to Ben E. King and The Drifters)5:17
3."The Longest Time" (Homage to doo-wop groups like Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers)3:42
4."This Night" (Homage to Little Anthony and the Imperials; chorus tune is Ludwig van Beethoven's Pathetique sonata)4:17
5."Tell Her About It" (Homage to Motown groups like The Supremes and The Temptations)3:52
Side two
6."Uptown Girl" (Homage to Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons[9])3:17
7."Careless Talk" (Homage to Sam Cooke)3:48
8."Christie Lee" (Homage to Little Richard or Jerry Lee Lewis)3:31
9."Leave a Tender Moment Alone" (Homage to Smokey Robinson)3:56
10."Keeping the Faith" (Homage to Betty Wright's "Clean Up Woman". Lyrical homage to Pre-British Invasion Rock n Roll)4:41


Additional personnel

  • Ralph MacDonald – percussion on "Leave a Tender Moment Alone" and "Careless Talk"
  • Leon Pendarvis – Hammond B3 organ on "Easy Money"
  • Richard Tee – acoustic piano on "Tell Her About It"
  • Eric Gale – electric guitar on "Easy Money"
  • Toots Thielemans – harmonica on "Leave a Tender Moment Alone"
  • "String Fever" – strings
  • Ronnie Cuber – baritone saxophone on "Easy Money", "Careless Talk", "Tell Her About It" and "Keeping the Faith"
  • Jon Faddis – trumpet on "Easy Money"
  • David Sanborn – alto saxophone on "Easy Money"
  • Joe Shepley – trumpet on "Easy Money", "Careless Talk", "Tell Her About It" and "Keeping the Faith"
  • Michael Brecker – tenor saxophone on "Careless Talk", "Tell Her About It" and "Keeping the Faith"
  • John Gatchell – trumpet on "Careless Talk", "Tell Her About It" and "Keeping the Faith"
  • Tom Bahler – background vocals
  • Rory Dodd – background vocals
  • Frank Floyd – background vocals
  • Lani Groves – background vocals
  • Ullanda McCullough – background vocals
  • Ron Taylor – background vocals
  • Terry Textor – background vocals
  • Eric Troyer – background vocals
  • Mike Alexander – background vocals


  • Producer – Phil Ramone
  • Engineers – Jim Boyer and Bradshaw Leigh
  • Assistant Engineers – Mike Allaire and Scott James
  • Production Coordinator – Laura Loncteaux
  • Mastered by Ted Jensen
  • Horn and String arrangements – David Matthews
  • Background vocal arrangements – Tom Bahler
  • Musical Advisor – Billy Zampino
  • Photography – Gilles Larrain
  • Cover Design – Christopher Austopchuk and Mark Larson
  • Recorded at Chelsea Sound and A & R Recording, Inc., New York, NY.
  • Mixed at A & R Recording, Inc., New York, NY.
  • Mastered at Sterling Sound, New York, NY.

Pop Culture[edit]

The album track "Easy Money" was played during the opening credits of the 1983 Rodney Dangerfield film Easy Money.


Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1984 An Innocent Man Album of the Year[10] Nominated
"Uptown Girl" Best Pop Vocal Performance – Male[10] Nominated

American Music Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1983 Billy Joel (performer) Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist[11] Nominated
"Tell Her About It" Favorite Pop/Rock Video[11] Nominated


Decade-end charts[edit]

Chart (1980–89) Position
Australian Albums Chart[12] 12
UK Albums Chart[36] 33

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[37] 3× Platinum 300,000^
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[38] Gold 10,000*
Japan (Oricon Charts) 510,000[17][39]
New Zealand (RMNZ)[40] Platinum 15,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[41] 3× Platinum 900,000^
United States (RIAA)[42] 7× Platinum 7,000,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


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  3. ^ Puterbaugh, Parke (August 18, 1983). "Billy Joel: An Innocent Man". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on February 20, 2008. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  4. ^ Evans, Paul (2004). "Billy Joel". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 434–35. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
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  7. ^ "Billy Joel – An Innocent Man – Album Cover Location", PopSpots
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  11. ^ a b "11th American Music Awards". Retrieved November 1, 2011.
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  29. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1984". RPM. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
  30. ^ "日本で売れた洋楽アルバムトップ10" [Top-ten international albums on the Japanese Oricon Year-End Charts 1984]. Archived from the original on October 21, 2007. Retrieved October 21, 2007.
  31. ^ "The Top 50 Albums of 1984". Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  32. ^ "Top Albums of 1984". 1980s Albums Chart Archive. The Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  33. ^ "1984 Billboard Year-End". Billboard. December 22, 1984. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  34. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – 1985". Hung Medien. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  35. ^ "Billboard.BIZ – Year-end Charts – Billboard 200 – 1985". Billboard. Retrieved February 4, 2012.
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  41. ^ "British album certifications – Billy Joel – An Innocent Man". British Phonographic Industry.Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type An Innocent Man in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  42. ^ "American album certifications – Billy Joel – An Innocent Man". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.