Billy Joel’s Greatest Instrumental Hits

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Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Discover Billy Joel’s greatest instrumental hits and get lost in the music. From “Piano Man” to “Root Beer Rag,” these classics will have you tapping your toes.


Instrumental hits are songs where the main focus is on the music, rather than the lyrics. These types of songs became popular in the early 20th century, and they continue to be popular today.

While Billy Joel is best known for his vocal hits, he has also written some great instrumental songs. Here are five of Billy Joel’s greatest instrumental hits:

“The Stranger” – This song is from Billy Joel’s 1977 album of the same name. It features a great guitar solo from Eddie Van Halen.

“Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” – This song is from Billy Joel’s 1977 album The Stranger. It is a beautiful piano piece that features an orchestral arrangement.

“Rosalinda’s Eyes” – This song is from Billy Joel’s 1978 album 52nd Street. It features a fantastic saxophone solo by Michael Brecker.

“Stiletto” – This song is from Billy Joel’s 1989 album Storm Front. It is a fast-pacedrock song that features some great guitar work by Steve Vai.

“The Downeaster ‘Alexa'” – This song is from Billy Joel’s 1993 album River of Dreams. It is a beautiful ballad that features maritime imagery and sounds.

“Angry Young Man”

“Angry Young Man” is a song by Billy Joel from his album The Stranger. Released in 1977, the song was a minor hit in the US, peaking at #17 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The song is about a young man who is angry at the world and doesn’t understand why things are the way they are. He’s been dealt a tough hand in life and he lash out at anyone who tries to help him.

“Captain Jack”

“Captain Jack” is a song by Billy Joel from his album Piano Man. It was released as a single in 1974 and reached #24 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song is about a heroin addict who tries to seduce young girls. Joel has said that the character is based on an actual person he knew when he was growing up in Levittown, New York.

“Goodnight Saigon”

“Goodnight Saigon” is a Billy Joel song from his 1982 album The Nylon Curtain. It is about the Vietnam War and is told from the point of view of a group of American soldiers fighting in the war.

The song features many references to actual events and people involved in the war, such as the fall of Saigon, the Vietnam Memorial, and General William Westmoreland. Joel has said that he wrote the song to try and give a voice to those who were unable to speak out about their experiences in the war.

The song was a commercial success, reaching number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and has since become one of Billy Joel’s most well-known songs. It has been covered by many artists, including Barbra Streisand, Bruce Springsteen, and even an all-female Japanese metal band.

“Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)”

Billy Joel’s “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)” is one of his most famous instrumental hits. The song is about the implosion of the World Trade Center and the aftermath of 9/11. It is a very emotional and haunting song that always brings a tear to my eye.

“Only the Good Die Young”

“Only the Good Die Young” is a song from Billy Joel’s 1977 album The Stranger. It was released as the third single from the album in 1978.

The song is about a young Catholic man’s struggle with his faith, and his attraction to a young woman he knows he shouldn’t be attracted to. The lyrics are full of sexual innuendo, which caused some controversy when the song was released. Nevertheless, it became one of Joel’s most popular songs, and has been a staple of his live shows for decades.

Instrumentally, the song features a catchy piano hook, and a driving rock groove. The guitar solo is one of Joel’s most famous, and has been frequently covered by other artists.

“Piano Man”

Billy Joel is an American singer-songwriter and pianist. He has released his Greatest Instrumental Hits, which contains some of his most popular piano pieces. “Piano Man” is one of his most famous songs, and it features a catchy melody that many people enjoy.

“Root Beer Rag”

“Root Beer Rag” is a song written by American singer-songwriter Billy Joel. It was released as a single in 1974, and later appeared on his album Streetlife Serenade (1974). The song is an uptempo piano ragtime piece with a duration of two minutes and forty-one seconds.

“Root Beer Rag” was well received by music critics. AllMusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine praised the song, calling it “a nice throwaway” and “the best original composition on the album”. Joel himself has said that the ragtime piano style of the song was influenced by Scott Joplin.

The song has been used in a number of films and television shows, including The Big iOS Update (2017), Laverne & Shirley (1976), and The Simpsons (1989).

“Scenes from an Italian Restaurant”

Billy Joel’s “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” is a classic track that has been beloved by fans for decades. The song was originally released in 1977 on Joel’s album The Stranger, and it has since been covered by numerous artists. “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” is a beautiful ballad that features Joel’s trademark piano playing, and it is one of the best examples of his instrumental prowess.

“Streetlife Serenade”

“Streetlife Serenade” is a 1974 album by Billy Joel. It was his second studio album and his first album to be released in quadraphonic sound. The album was not as successful as Joel’s previous albums, only reaching number 35 on the US Billboard 200 chart, although the title track was a minor hit, peaking at number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

“We Didn’t Start the Fire”

On the night of Billy Joel’s final concert at Madison Square Garden, he decided to close out with something special. He brought out his friend and fellow musician, Steve Vai, to play an extended guitar solo during the song “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” It was a powerful performance, and proof that Billy Joel is one of the greatest instrumentalists of our time.

Billy Joel is a pianist, singer and songwriter from Long Island, New York. He first came to prominence in the 1970s with his debut album, “Cold Spring Harbor.” Since then, he has released 13 studio albums and multiple live albums. He is one of the best-selling artists of all time, with over 150 million records sold worldwide.

Billy Joel is a master of many different genres, including pop, rock, blues and even classical music. But his true passion lies in playing the piano. He is known for his incredible skill as a pianist, often able to improvise complex solos during live performances.

While “We Didn’t Start the Fire” is not one of Billy Joel’s most traditional piano songs, it does showcase his incredible range as an instrumentalist. The song is an upbeat track about historical events happening during Joel’s lifetime. It features a simple piano melody that builds into a more complex arrangement as the song progresses. Vai’s guitar solo fits perfectly into this arrangement, adding an extra layer of excitement to the already catchy tune.

“We Didn’t Start the Fire” is just one example of Billy Joel’s amazing ability as an instrumentalist. If you’re a fan of his music, be sure to check out some of his other great hits like “Piano Man,” “New York State of Mind” and “River of Dreams.”


“Zanzibar” is a song by American singer-songwriter Billy Joel. It was released as a single from his 1978 album 52nd Street.

The song is a jazz fusion instrumental featuring a distinctive horn section riff. Joel has said that the song was inspired by the trip he took to Africa in 1977.

“Zanzibar” was well received by critics and peaked at #17 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It has since been included on several of Joel’s greatest hits compilations, including Greatest Hits Volume II and The Essential Billy Joel.

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