Cover to promotional single of live version released in Japan in 1981
|Song by Billy Joel from the album Streetlife Serenade|
|Recorded||1974, North Hollywood, California|
|Streetlife Serenade track listing|
Lyrics and music
At the time he wrote "Los Angelenos" the Long Island-raised Joel was living in Los Angeles, California. The lyrics describe Joel's impressions there. Authors Don and Jeff Breithaupt suggest that the song reflects the "Left Coast displacement" he was feeling at the time. Joel biographer Hank Bordowitz similarly describes "Los Angelenos" as showing "that Billy was beginning to feel a bit homesick."
The lyrics to "Los Angelenos" celebrate the diversity of Los Angeles. They observe that the inhabitants of Los Angeles mostly have come from elsewhere, many far from California. They are searching for something that caused them to come to Los Angeles, but many get seduced by the nice weather and the availability of sex and drugs, and so remain even if they can't find what they originally came for. Joel notes that these people are "goin' nowhere."
Author Ken Bielen describes the song as having a "funky rock beat." Joel biographer Fred Schruers describes it as having "hip-swinging rhythms." Music critic Mark Bego states that the song "rocks out" more intensely than any of Joel's work since he was with the Hassles in the 1960s. Bielen describes the melody as being similar to that of Bruce Springsteen's "Fire," which was written shortly after "Los Angelenos." Joel's electric piano is prominent in the mix.
Allmusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine describes the "stomping 'Los Anegelenos'" as one of the "few winners" from the Streetlife Serenade album.  Schruers describes it as Joel's "best attempt to sketch a portrait of" Los Angeles. Bego states that song "essays [Joel's] life in the West Coast beautifully, with a critical eye." But Bordowitz says it has "a cynical quality." And Rolling Stone Magazine critic Stephen Holden states that it "presents a hackneyed picture postcard of L.A. as sexual wasteland." Rolling Stone Album Guide critic Paul Evans states that it is one of several "narrative vignettes" on Streetlife Serenade that "strain[s] to be clever."
A live version of "Los Angelenos" recorded in 1980 was included on the 1981 live album Songs in the Attic. Erlewine states that the "fuller, better arrangement" makes the live version "hit harder" than the studio version. A 16 mm black and white promotional video was made of "Los Angelenos" being performed live at a small club in support of Songs in the Attic. A promotional single was released in Japan.
- Breithaupt, Don & Breithaupt, Jeff (2014). Night Moves: Pop Music in the Late '70s. St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 9781466871380.
- Bego, Mark (2007). Billy Joel: The Biography. Thunder's Mouth Press. p. 80. ISBN 9781560259893.
- Bordowitz, H. (2006). Billy Joel: The Life & Times of an Angry Young Man. Random House. pp. 80, 135. ISBN 9780823082483.
- Bielen, Ken (2011). The Words and Music of Billy Joel. ABC-CLIO. pp. 29–30, 116. ISBN 9780313380167.
- Schruers, Fred (2014). Billy Joel: The Definitive Biography. Crown Archetype. p. 106. ISBN 9780804140201.
- Erlewine, Stehpen Thomas. "Streetlife Serenade". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-03-28.
- Holden, Stephen (December 5, 1974). "Streetlight Serenade". Rolling Stone Magazine. Retrieved 2016-04-24.
- Evans, Paul (2004). Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. The Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Fireside. p. 434. ISBN 0743201698.
- Erlewine, Stehpen Thomas. "Songs in the Attic". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-03-28.
- Darling, Cary (September 19, 1981). "Music Monitor". Billboard Magazine. p. 53. Retrieved 2016-04-11.