One Track Mind: The Stranger-Billy Joel

Meghan Lusky, Writer

Billy Joel is an American pianist, singer, and songwriter composing from the late 70s to the early 90s born in New York on May 9th, 1949. During that time, he had many different albums including 52nd Street and Innocent Man. Some of the songs released throughout the years included the infamous Piano Man, Innocent Man, and Captain Jack. The song “The Stranger” is the second song that came off the album with the same name. In addition, The Stranger was the fifth studio album that was released in September of 1977. 

In the beginning, the song sounded like it came out of a western movie because of how Joel is playing the piano. Joel is also whistling, and you are able to hear drums and guitar chords kick in which increases the tempo. With the drums and guitar rhythms setting the tempo of the song, Joel starts singing the lyrics that are repeated throughout the song.  The majority of the piece is faster paced, however, it does return to a slower pace song as heard at the beginning.

 The overall theme of the song is that we do not know a person truly because what one reveals to friends is different than what one reveals to their family. At the start of the song, it states “Some are satin, some are steel, Some are silk and some are leather, they’re the faces of the stranger.” This means that people could be showing off a more outgoing and funny personality to their friends, and conceal this personality from family.

 While listening to this song I thought about how I might not show some parts of my personality to different people. While I might show off my musical taste to people I might not show off my enjoyment of listening to true crime podcasts because others feel I shouldn’t be listening to these podcasts at my age. 

While the song The Stranger might express different feelings to fans, this has not stopped the theme from being the same: people concealing a side of themselves or sharing different secrets with people. Overall, The Stranger proves to be an exceptional and underestimated song from Billy Joel.