The Longest Time

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"The Longest Time"
Single by Billy Joel
from the album An Innocent Man
B-side "Christie Lee"
Released March 1984
Format 12", CD
Recorded 1983
Genre Doo-wop, a cappella
Length 3:40
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Billy Joel
Producer(s) Phil Ramone
Billy Joel singles chronology
"An Innocent Man"
"The Longest Time"
"Leave a Tender Moment Alone"

"The Longest Time" is a doo-wop single by Billy Joel. The song was released as a single in 1984 as the fourth single from the 1983 album An Innocent Man. It reached number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart.[1] In the United Kingdom the song reached number 25 on the UK Singles Chart.

The song features Joel on lead vocals and all backing vocals. Two musical instruments are present in the song: a bass guitar and a snare drum being played with brushes. When the song is covered by vocal groups, the bass part is typically sung.[2] All other sounds in the song are Joel's vocals, along with percussive sounds such as finger snaps and hand claps.[3] Phil Ramone and Joel had intended to feature a vocal group but Joel recorded each of the parts himself.[4]

Music video[edit]

The music video starts with a man (played by Joel) in a gym after his 25th high school reunion party. Looking around at posters of several class awards, he breaks into song as his band, apparently portrayed as his high school friends, enters the gym. As they sing, they alternate between their high school and current selves. The video was entirely filmed at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.

In popular culture[edit]

The song is featured in the 2008 film Step Brothers, in which a fictional Billy Joel cover band named "Uptown Girl" plays the song, then is subsequently booed off the stage.[5]

The How I Met Your Mother episode "The Time Travelers" concludes with Ted Mosby, Barney Stinson, and the future versions of themselves singing an a cappella version of the song.

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1984-1985) Peak
Australian Singles Chart 15
RPM Top Singles[6] 36
Irish Singles Chart 18
New Zealand Singles Chart 24
UK Singles Chart 25
US Billboard Hot 100 14
US Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 1


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–2001. Record Research. p. 127. 
  2. ^ Duchan, Joshua S. (2012). Powerful Voices: The Musical and Social World of Collegiate A Cappella. University of Michigan Press. p. 39. ISBN 9780472118250. 
  3. ^ "The Longest Time by Billy Joel Songfacts". 
  4. ^ Schruers, Fred (2014). Billy Joel. Crown Publishing Group. p. 199. ISBN 9780804140201. 
  5. ^ "Step Brothers Soundtracks". Internet Movie Database. 
  6. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Hello" by Lionel Richie
Billboard Adult Contemporary (chart) number-one single
May 19, 1984 – May 26, 1984
Succeeded by
"Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper