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Experiencing Billy Joel

A Listener's Companion

Thomas MacFarlane

Over the course of his career, Billy Joel has released a series of remarkable albums that together chart his journey as an artist from relative obscurity to international success. In Experiencing Billy Joel, musician and writer Thomas MacFarlane explores that musical journey, from Joel’s apprenticeship in the Long Island music scene to his experiences in both New York and Los Angeles writing and recording his own unique brand of piano rock and pop.

After achieving a certain degree of musical success in the late 1960s, Joel embarked on a career as a singer-songwriter in the early 1970s. Although his initial albums demonstrated a precocious mastery that helped establish him in the field, his full potential as a recording artist blossomed on The Stranger (1977), created under the guidance of legendary producer Phil Ramone. Subsequent releases explored a variety of musical styles and helped solidify Joel’s reputation as one of the most important pop composers of his era.

Experiencing Billy Joel explores each of Joel’s albums, laying out their appeal to musicians and non-musicians alike while also exploring the various production styles that have characterized Joel’s development in the studio. Along the way, MacFarlane reveals how Billy Joel’s recorded works as a whole serve as the foundation for a complex and enduring musical legacy.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 198Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/2
978-1-4422-5768-9 • Hardback • September 2016 • $40.00 • (£24.95)
978-1-4422-5769-6 • eBook • September 2016 • $38.00 • (£24.95)
Thomas MacFarlane teaches courses in music research and composition at New York University while also working as a composer and a writer. MacFarlane is the author of The Beatles' Abbey Road Medley: Extended Forms in Popular Music and The Beatles and McLuhan: Understanding The Electric Age, and has also contributed chapters to various scholarly studies on popular music.
Chapter 1: A Portrait of the Artist
Chapter 2: The Streetlife Serenader
Chapter 3: I’ve Loved These Days
Chapter 4: The Stranger on 52nd Street
Chapter 5: Genre Games
Chapter 6: Famous Last Words
Chapter 7: Fantasies, Conclusions, and the Girl at the Party
Appendix A: Interview with Ira Newborn
Appendix B: Interview with Rhys Clark
Appendix C: Interview with Don Evans