The Stranger (album)

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The Stranger
Studio album by Billy Joel
Released September 29, 1977
Recorded July–August 1977
Studio A&R Recording, Inc., New York City
Length 42:34
Label Columbia
Producer Phil Ramone
Billy Joel chronology
The Stranger
52nd Street
(1978)52nd Street1978
Singles from The Stranger
  1. "Just the Way You Are"
    Released: September 1977
  2. "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)"
    Released: November 1, 1977
  3. "Only the Good Die Young"
    Released: 1977
  4. "Vienna/She's Always a Woman"
    Released: 1977
  5. "The Stranger"
    Released: May 21, 1978 (Japan only)
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[1]
American Songwriter4/5 stars[2]
Blender5/5 stars[3]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[4]
Record Collector4/5 stars[5]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[6]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[7]
Slant Magazine4/5 stars[8]
Uncut4/5 stars[9]
The Village VoiceB−[10]

The Stranger is the fifth studio album by American recording artist Billy Joel, released on September 29, 1977 by Columbia Records. While his previous four albums had been moderately successful, The Stranger became Joel's true critical and commercial breakthrough, spending six weeks at  No.  2 on the US Billboard 200. Considered his magnum opus, it remains his best-selling non-compilation album to date, and was ranked at  No.  70 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[11]


By 1976, Joel had a reliable touring band consisting of Doug Stegmeyer on bass, Liberty DeVitto on drums and Richie Cannata on saxophone, flute, clarinet and organ, but never had a constant guitarist in the day because according to Joel, it was difficult to find the right guitarist; hence the initial revolving door of guitarists, including Russell Javors, Howie Emerson and jazz guitarist Steve Khan. Joel had written a batch of new songs and wanted to use his touring band in the studio on future releases as he had done on Turnstiles. He had in fact met with famed Beatles producer George Martin: as a big fan of The Beatles, he wanted him to produce his new record. Martin showed interest, but did not want to use Joel's band, and so it never came to fruition. Joel met with veteran New York City record producer Phil Ramone to produce his album and what turned him onto Ramone was the fact that he "got it" with his band, notably his love of their energy, their band and what they were doing at a concert in Carnegie Hall.[12]

Joel describes the sessions for the album as "a blast" and as the breakthrough album with four hit singles.[13] The Stranger contains nine songs. Songwriting on "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)," "She's Always a Woman," "Just the Way You Are," "Everybody Has a Dream," and "Only the Good Die Young" was completed before recording, while "Vienna," "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant," "The Stranger," and "Get It Right the First Time," which originated as short tunes or musical fragments, were completed in the studio. Lyrically, the album's approach is decidedly narrative; each song tells a story. The seven-and-a-half-minute epic "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" began as a shorter song entitled "The Ballad of Brenda and Eddie," which became the third section of "Italian Restaurant." While composing "The Stranger," Joel whistled the track's signature theme for Ramone, claiming that he (Joel) needed to find an instrument to play it. Ramone told Joel that the whistling he did was perfect, and thus it was kept in the final recording.[14] The album's final song, "Everybody Has a Dream," closes the album out with a reprise of the whistled theme from "The Stranger."[14]

Four singles from the LP charted on the Billboard Hot 100 in the following order: "Just the Way You Are" (No. 3), "Movin' Out" (No. 17), "Only the Good Die Young" (No. 24), and "She's Always a Woman" (No. 17). Many of its songs are now staples on classic rock and adult contemporary FM radio stations.

According to Joel, George Martin wrote him a letter and it read, "You were right; I was wrong. I should have considered working with your band. Congratulations."[15]


Much of the album's success is attributed to Joel's collaboration with producer Phil Ramone, whose innovative production methods complemented the album's listing; this fruitful partnership would continue for a decade. Singles released from the album include "Just the Way You Are" (which won the Grammy for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year), the acoustic ballad "She's Always A Woman," the mildly controversial "Only the Good Die Young," and "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)," which later lent its title to Movin' Out, an acclaimed hit Broadway musical based on Joel's work. This album overtook Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge over Troubled Water to become the best-selling album on the Columbia Records imprint at the time.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Billy Joel.

Side one
1."Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)"3:30
2."The Stranger"5:10
3."Just the Way You Are"4:52
4."Scenes from an Italian Restaurant"7:37
Side two
6."Only the Good Die Young"3:55
7."She's Always a Woman"3:21
8."Get It Right the First Time"3:57
9."Everybody Has a Dream" (includes a reprise of "The Stranger")6:38
Total length:42:34

Songs © 1977 except "Everybody Has a Dream" © 1971

30th Anniversary Edition[edit]

In July 2008, a special "30th Anniversary Edition" of The Stranger was released. It contains two special editions: a 2-CD Legacy Edition, and a Deluxe Limited Edition (which includes two CDs and a bonus DVD). The limited deluxe edition of The Stranger includes a CD of the original album in its entirety (remastered by producer Phil Ramone), and a second CD of a previously unreleased concert featuring Billy and his band, Live at Carnegie Hall 1977, recorded at the historic Manhattan venue on June 3, 1977, one month before the sessions for The Stranger album. The Deluxe Limited Edition included a DVD showcasing two live promotional videos from The Stranger; and Joel's performance on the BBC's Old Grey Whistle Test, a seldom-seen sixty-minute set from 1978 that has aired only once on the UK's BBC2. Also included in this box set is a facsimile poster from the 1977 Carnegie Hall concert, and a facsimile notebook that contains copies of rough draft lyrics for many of the songs that appeared on The Stranger.

Live at Carnegie Hall, June 3, 1977 CD

  1. "Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)" – 5:11
  2. "Prelude/Angry Young Man" – 6:05
  3. "New York State of Mind" – 8:20
  4. "Just the Way You Are" – 4:56
  5. "She's Got a Way" – 3:32
  6. "The Entertainer" – 6:09
  7. "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" – 7:35
  8. "Band Introductions" – 2:02
  9. "Captain Jack" – 6:51
  10. "I've Loved These Days" – 4:29
  11. "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" – 6:45
  12. "Souvenir" – 2:09

Bonus DVD

  • Live Promotional Videos, 1977
  1. "The Stranger"
  2. "Just the Way You Are"
  • The Old Grey Whistle Test on BBC1 (First broadcast March 14, 1978)
  1. "Intro"
  2. "Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)"
  3. "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)"
  4. "New York State of Mind"
  5. "The Entertainer"
  6. "She's Always a Woman"
  7. "Root Beer Rag"
  8. "Just the Way You Are"
  9. "Only the Good Die Young"
  10. "Souvenir"
  11. "Ain't No Crime"
  • 30 Minute Making of The Stranger Documentary

Best Buy exclusive bonus CD (Live at Nassau Coliseum 12/77) (packaged with both the 2-CD Legacy and 2CD/1DVD 30th Anniversary Edition)

  1. "Just the Way You Are"
  2. "Vienna"
  3. "The Ballad of Billy the Kid"
  4. "Get It Right the First Time"
  5. "Summer, Highland Falls"

Target exclusive bonus DVD (packaged with the 2-CD Legacy Edition)

  1. "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" (Live from Long Island, New York)
  2. "The Stranger" (Live from Long Island, New York)
  3. "Only the Good Die Young" (Live from Leningrad, Russia)
  4. "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" (Live from Yankee Stadium, The Bronx, New York City, New York)
  5. "Piano Man" (Live from The River of Dreams Tour)

Online store bonus tracks

  1. "Prelude/Angry Young Man" (Live version) (Version 2) (iTunes Album Only Exclusive Track) – 5:03
  2. "She's Got a Way" (Live Version) (Version 2) (AmazonMP3 Exclusive Track) – 3:42


Live at Carnegie Hall June 3, 1977

Charts and certifications[edit]


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[33] 5× Platinum 500,000^
France (SNEP)[34] N/A 75,000[35]
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[36] Platinum 15,000*
Japan (RIAJ)[37] Gold 377,000[38][39]
New Zealand (RMNZ)[40] Platinum 15,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[41] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[42] Diamond 10,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


Grammy Awards

Year Winner Category
1978 "Just the Way You Are" Record of the Year
1978 "Just the Way You Are" Song of the Year

Release history[edit]

Media Release date Publisher Catalog Number
Vinyl LP 09/1977 Columbia JC 34987
Vinyl LP

Australian release

1977 Columbia

(CBS Inc.)

SBP 237057
CD 1st Issue Japan 06/03/1982 CBS/Sony 35-DP-2
Cassette 10/1990 Columbia JCT 34987
CD 1990 Columbia CK-34987
CD Remastered 10/20/1998 Columbia CK 69384
Super Audio CD 07/31/2001 Sony CS 69384
2CD Legacy Edition 07/08/08 Columbia/Legacy 88697 22581 2
2CD/DVD 30th Anniversary Edition 07/08/08 Columbia/Legacy 88697 30801 2
SACD Remastered 2012 Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab UDSACD 2089

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The Stranger – Billy Joel". AllMusic. Retrieved April 15, 2015. 
  2. ^ Gaar, Gillian G. (September 1, 2008). "Billy Joel > The Stranger". American Songwriter. Retrieved January 9, 2016. 
  3. ^ Browne, David (May 22, 2007). "Billy Joel: The Stranger". Blender. Archived from the original on January 31, 2010. Retrieved October 19, 2015. 
  4. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8. 
  5. ^ Staunton, Terry (September 2008). "Billy Joel – The Stranger: 30th Anniversary Edition". Record Collector (353). Retrieved January 9, 2016. 
  6. ^ Rosen, Jody (July 10, 2008). "Billy Joel: The Stranger". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on April 10, 2009. Retrieved October 19, 2015. 
  7. ^ Evans, Paul (2004). "Billy Joel". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. pp. 434–35. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  8. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (September 4, 2004). "Billy Joel: The Stranger". Slant Magazine. Retrieved April 15, 2015. 
  9. ^ Torn, Luke (September 2008). "Billy Joel: The Stranger". Uncut (136). 
  10. ^ Christgau, Robert (March 27, 1978). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved April 15, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Billy Joel, 'The Stranger'". Rolling Stone. 
  12. ^ billyjoelVEVO (14 November 2011). "Billy Joel - Billy Joel on THE STRANGER - from THE COMPLETE ALBUMS COLLECTION" – via YouTube. 
  13. ^ Paiste Cymbals (24 April 2009). "2009 Nigel Olsson and Chuck Burgi interview" – via YouTube. 
  14. ^ a b
  15. ^ "Billy Joel - The Republican interview". 
  16. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  17. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 29, No. 2, April 08 1978". RPM. 1978-04-08. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  18. ^ " Billy Joel - The Stranger". Hung Medien, (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Archived from the original on 2013-12-07. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  19. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste" (in French). Archived from the original on September 10, 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  20. ^ "Tonlist Top 40". DV. Retrieved 2017-02-09. 
  21. ^ a b "Hit Parade Italia - Gli album più venduti del 1978" (in Italian). Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  22. ^ "東方神起がビリー・ジョエル以来31年ぶり快挙、シングル・アルバム同時TOP3入り" [Tohoshinki Set the Record For The First Time in 31 Years: Reaching the Top-3 on Both of the Singles and Albums Chart Since Billy Joel] (in Japanese). Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  23. ^ " - Billy Joel - The Stranger". Hung Medien, Recording Industry Association of New Zea Land. Archived from the original on 2013-10-01. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  24. ^ "Billy Joel > Artist > Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  25. ^ "allmusic ((( The Stranger > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-03-19. 
  26. ^ * Zimbabwe. Kimberley, C. Zimbabwe: albums chart book. Harare: C. Kimberley, 2000
  27. ^ "ビリー・ジョエル-リリース-ORICON STYLE-ミュージック" [Highest position and charting weeks for The Stranger (30th Anniversary Edition) by Billy Joel]. (in Japanese). Oricon Style. Archived from the original on May 2, 2014. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  28. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1978". RPM. Archived from the original on 2013-06-19. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  29. ^ 1978年アルバム年間ヒットチャート [Japanese Year-End Albums Chart 1978] (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  30. ^ "The Top 50 Albums of 1978". Retrieved 4 February 2015. 
  31. ^ "The Top 50 Albums of 1979". Retrieved 4 February 2015. 
  32. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc (1979-12-22). – Year End Charts – Year-end Albums – The Billboard 200. Retrieved 2014-05-01. 
  33. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Billy Joel – The Stranger". Music Canada. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  34. ^ "French album certifications – Billy Joel – 52nd Street" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. 
  35. ^ "Les Albums Or". SNEP. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  36. ^ "IFPIHK Platinum Disc Award − 1981". IFPI Hong Kong. 
  37. ^ "RIAJ > The Record > May 1995 > Page 5 > Certified Awards (March 1995)" (PDF). Recording Industry Association of Japan (in Japanese). Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  38. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9. 
  39. ^ "- Yamachan Land (Archives of the Japanese record charts) - Albums Chart Daijiten - Billy Joel" (in Japanese). Archived from a-ビリー・ジョエル the original Check |url= value (help) on September 8, 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  40. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – Billy Joel – The Stranger". Recorded Music NZ. 
  41. ^ "British album certifications – Billy Joel – The Stranger". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 25 July 2012.  Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Enter The Stranger in the search field and then press Enter.
  42. ^ "American album certifications – Billy Joel – The Stranger". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 25 July 2012.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]