Billy Joel is an iconic songwriter, piano player, and performer. His songs are timeless, and his shows are electric. And for guitar players, it can be frustrating that he wrote all this great music from the piano. Songs like The Piano Man, Scenes from an Italian Restaurant, and New York State of Mind just ‘sit right’ on piano.
The good news is that there’s a handful of Billy Joel songs that actually feel right on acoustic guitar. The guitar strumming even carries a lot of these songs along on the recordings.
The first one in the list is beautiful and well-known, but fairly difficult. We’ll start with that one to set the bar high (video included). But then the rest of them are fun strummin’ songs that should be good for players of all levels.
Billy Joel Songs for Acoustic Guitar
And So It Goes (1989)
According to Billy Joel, this is his best work that is least appreciated (ref.). He wrote it years ahead of releasing it and it never topped the charts. The arrangement by Tommy Emmanuel below also happens to be what got me hooked on Tommy Emmanuel.
The Entertainer (1974)
Release on his album “Streelight Serenade”, the lyrics poke a somewhat cynical finger at the life of a celebrity. Billy Joel’s probably grateful that he’s outlived his own pesimistic forecast for famous musicians.
Only The Good Die Young (1977)
From “The Stranger” album. This song is about a guy trying to get a girl – the classic theme of pretty much all rock’n’roll.
It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me (1980)
A #1 hit for Billy Joel from the “Glass Houses” album. Another of Billy Joel’s looks at the travails of an aging musician. Seems to be a theme for him…
Don’t Ask Me Why (1980)
Another single off the “Glass Houses” album, but with a folky fell slightly out of place on that album. You can play this song at two levels: 1) the basic changes (see link below), or 2) use passing chords to get closer to the recording.
Uptown Girl (1983)
A classic song from the album, “An Innocent Man”. Somehow this song never had a #1 spot on the US charts. That baffles me.
The Longest Time (1983)
This doo-wop song from the “An Innocent Man” DID, in fact, reach a #1 spot on the charts.