Big Shot (song)

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"Big Shot"
Big Shot Billy Joel.jpg
Single by Billy Joel
from the album 52nd Street
B-side "Root Beer Rag", "Half a Mile Away"
Released January 1979
Format 7"
Recorded A & R Recording, Inc., New York City, 1978
Genre Rock
Length 4:03 (Album version)
3:43 (Single version)
Label Columbia
Songwriter(s) Billy Joel
Producer(s) Phil Ramone
Billy Joel singles chronology
"My Life"
"Big Shot"
"My Life"
"Big Shot"

"Big Shot" was the second hit single from Billy Joel's 1978 album 52nd Street. The song was released in early-1979, just as his other hit single from that same album, "'My Life", was peaking at #3. It would soon become his second top-twenty hit of 1979, peaking at #14.

The song is superficially about the protagonist mocking a woman with a severe hangover for her intoxicated escapades around town, making numerous social and verbal faux pas while high on alcohol and drugs ("But now you just can't remember / All the things you said / And you're not sure you want to know / I'll give you one hint, honey / You sure did put on a show!") The song makes late 1970s cultural references to such nouveaux riche fads as Elaine's Restaurant and Halston. At one point, Joel said in an interview that the song was actually about himself (that he was the one who "had to be a big shot".)

A rumor that the song was based on a bad date with Bianca Jagger, Mick Jagger's first wife, is not true. In an interview in 2006, Billy Joel said, "I read that the song 'Big Shot' is said to be about a date I had with Bianca Jagger. I never had a date with Bianca Jagger."[1] But in an interview with Howard Stern on November 16, 2010, Joel admitted that the song was written after having dinner with Mick and Bianca Jagger. Joel told Stern that while writing the lyrics to "Big Shot," he was thinking of Mick singing the song to Bianca.[2]

Single and album edits[edit]

The only change made in the single version is an abridged outro.

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1979) Peak
Australian Singles Chart 91
Canadian Singles Chart[3] 13
New Zealand Singles Chart 36
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 14

Rock Band 3[edit]

The song was made available to download on December 14, 2010 for use in the Rock Band 3 music gaming platform in both Basic rhythm, and PRO mode which allows the use of a real guitar / bass guitar, and MIDI compatible electronic drum kits / keyboards in addition to vocals.


  1. ^ La Canna, Xavier (2006-11-10). "Billy Joel back to Aussie basics". Australian Associated Press. Archived from the original on January 1, 2008. Retrieved 2007-06-18. 
  2. ^ The Howard Stern Show (2010-11-16). "Billy Joel dreams in music". The Howard Stern Show. Archived from the original on 2012-05-03. Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  3. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved 2012-05-12. 

External links[edit]