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 26, 1977
Format 7" single
Recorded 1977
Genre Soft rock , easy listening
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"
"Just the Way You Are"
"Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)"
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.


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]

Chart performance[edit]

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

Other versions[edit]

Since its initial release in 1977, the song has been covered by many artists including: Barry White (in 1978),[16] Isaac Hayes (in 1978),[17] American jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal (instrumental version in 1978),[18] virtuoso organist Lenny Dee, saxophonist Hank Crawford (in 1978),[19] arranger Ray Conniff (in 1978),[20] Jamaican reggae singer John Holt,[21] Mexican star José José (in Spanish “Te Quiero Tal Como Eres”, in 1978,[22] Puerto Rican virtuoso guitar player José Feliciano (in 1978),[23] Dionne Warwick (in 1978),[24] Andy Williams,[25] Shirley Bassey,[26] Engelbert Humperdinck (in 1979),[27] Johnny Mathis with Deniece Williams (in 1980),[28] Kenny Rogers with Dottie West (in 1980),[29] Frank Sinatra (in 1980),[30] Rosemary Clooney (in 1981),[31] The Hi-Lo's (in 1981),[32] Italian star Mina (in 1985),[33] Diana Krall on her album "Live in Paris" (in 2002),[34] Donny Osmond (in 2005),[35] Dean Martin's daughter Deana Martin (in 2009),[36] Harry Connick, Jr. (in 2009),[37] Spanish actress Natalia Dicenta (in 2010),[38] Billy Joel's daughter Alexa Ray Joel (single released in 2013).[39]

Billy Joel also performed a revised version of his song with lyrics by Tony Geiss on Sesame Street (in 1988) where he sang to Oscar the Grouch along with Marlee Matlin who translated into sign language.

Joel has performed the song as a duet in live performances with Elton John during their Face to Face tours together.

See also[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. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Billy Joel – Just the Way You Are". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  7. ^ Collectionscanada.gc.ca
  8. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Billy Joel – Just the Way You Are". Top 40 Singles.
  9. ^ ""Just the Way You Are" on the South African Singles Chart". Springbok Radio. July 28, 1978. Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Billy Joel: Artist Chart History" Official Charts Company.
  11. ^ "Billy Joel – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Billy Joel.
  12. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 127. 
  13. ^ * Zimbabwe. Kimberley, C. Zimbabwe: singles chart book. Harare: C. Kimberley, 2000
  14. ^ https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/rpm/028020-119.01-e.php?&file_num=nlc008388.0070a&type=1&interval=50&PHPSESSID=t56uu31t7cn19047mvut6bemv1
  15. ^ http://www.musicoutfitters.com/topsongs/1978.htm
  16. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6eR9eQt5PE
  17. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XA-eblKsf4
  18. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgeGfB5zAmc
  19. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iWsJRbXbj0
  20. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogL0UpzQ0N4
  21. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcE7Meogw1E
  22. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RY9Akj9AUI
  23. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LkA1eSN3DI
  24. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhIxXuX-qkg
  25. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIWfZ6YH-Bk
  26. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OC_jFU5Yphs
  27. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvC2PKmItHQ
  28. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvED8AcL8lk
  29. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJ-Ny-MgDDQ
  30. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JmUnLf0I-M
  31. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXLgxXQO9Pc
  32. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntP7MHeyvRI
  33. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7u5YxOWKgIw
  34. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiOYsnET6Iw
  35. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZa2mojutnA
  36. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qktP5MuO9z0
  37. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTKhSS3eIY0
  38. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgiOzxmzn_U
  39. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqJ3s1yYd5E

External links[edit]