10 Best Billy Joel Songs; From We Didn’t Start the Fire To Scenes From an Italian Restaurant

Billy Joel has managed to make his place within the hearts of his fans and here are the 10 reasons for it. Explore the best Billy Joel songs with our list.

Published on May 15, 2024  |  08:03 PM IST |  41.6K
Best Billy Joel songs
Billy Joel (thegarden/Instagram)

Billy Joel's songs have made a lasting impact on the music industry. With a repertoire that delves into life, war, love, and more, his fans treasure what they consider the best of Billy Joel's music.

As a superstar, Joel has not only entertained audiences with his recorded singles but has also delivered magnificent live performances. His array of talents has kept him consistently at the top of both artist and song lists.

While it's well-known that he has sold out Madison Square Garden numerous times, pinpointing his single greatest hit is a challenge.

Here are the 10 best Billy Joel songs that have ruled fans' hearts for decades:

Top 10 Best Billy Joel Songs

We Didn’t Start the Fire

Release date: September 18, 1989

This one is a song that changed the course of history forever. Before this track, which is still considered as one of the best Billy Joel songs, people believed that the 1950s was a time that was filled with peace tranquility as well as blandness.

However, then came the artist with his entry that spoke of all the crazy things that took place during that particular era. We Didn’t Start The Fire went on to become a hit and also the tune that people still hum and sing to.

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Vienna

Release date: 1977

Along with the fans, this track that stands tall among Billy Joel's hits is also a personal favorite of Joel himself. Vienna is the song that at first, during its launch didn't get much attention. 

But today, fans who admire the work of Billy Joel, are seen putting this track on repeat. The song is inspired by the tales of his father who spent many days in the city. The song also gets its inspiration from Billy’s visit to the place.


Sleeping with the Television On

Release date: March 12, 1980 

This track has to be included in the list of Billy Joel's greatest songs. Sleeping with the Television On is one of the old and acclaimed tracks that are still played during live concerts of Joel. 

While introducing this song, the artist usually calls it “kind of an obscure song.” However, it is the same track that introduces its audience to a tight rhythm, great singing style, and a lot of other things.

Just the Way You Are

Release date: November 1977

This song is about love, but not the kind that unites two lovers. Instead, it tells the story of Billy Joel's enduring love for his ex-wife, Elizabeth Weber. Although this is one of Billy Joel's best songs, it is the one he chose not to perform live.

The song also depicts Joel's emotions, expressing the deep love he will forever feel for Weber, despite the numerous challenges they may have faced.

Just the Way You Are is one of the tracks that went on to become the greatest hits from his album The Stranger.

Miami 2017

Release date: May 1976

Released in 1976 the song speaks from the point of view of a retiree in Florida. This song talks about an apocalypse that taking place in what seems like New York. As the lyrics go “Seen the lights go out on Broadway/ I saw the Empire State laid low”

However, this track by Billy Joel went on to toughen up the New Yorkers as well as became the one that is still played in most of his live performances.

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Goodnight Saigon

Release date: 1982

This is a war song and one of the greatest Billy Joel hits. Joel wrote this song listening to the experiences of his friends, who told stories of the Vietnam War. 

This track is from Joel’s 1982 LP The Nylon Curtain. This is not actually an anti-war song but one that depicts the harsh and ruthless experience of the soldiers who had to face the threats of war.

Only the Good Die Young

Release date: 1977 

Said to have one of the greatest opening lines in the history of lyrics, Only the Good Die Young was also a track that was banned by a few radio stations in the year 1977. 

With the lyrics “Come out, Virginia, don’t let me wait/ You Catholic girls start much too late,” Billy Joel talks about his real-life crush on a Catholic girl named Virginia. 

Some people call it a companion piece to Bruce Springsteen’s classic Rosalita which was released in the year 1973, as within both the songs, the artists are asking their love interests to come out of their house, going against the will of the girl’s parents.

Captain Jack

Release date: November 1973

This definitely falls on the list of Billy Joel's most popular songs, as it is the one track that changed his life. Captain Jack grabbed the attention of Columbia Records who later signed Joel to their roaster.

Billy Joel wrote this song in 1971 while looking at a housing project that was visible from his Long Island apartment. His inspiration for this song came from the teenagers who brought drugs from a dealer called Captain Jack.

This song is from the perspective of a kid who is lost and depressed.


New York State of Mind

Release date: May 19, 1976

Billy Joel always loved his time in Long Island, however, in the mid-1970s he had to spend three years in Los Angeles. Although most of his famous songs were inspired and written during his time in LA, he went on to write New York State of Mind as he never felt the comfort of home.

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This is one of Billy Joel's best songs that he wrote on a Greyhound bus on the Hudson River Line. Since then this song has become an unofficial anthem for the city.

Piano Man

Release date: November 3, 1973

Piano Man, one of Billy Joel best songs, also serves as a defining track from the early days of this legendary artist.

It ultimately became his inaugural hit. Piano Man delves into the late 1972 period of Joel's life, during which he went by the name Bill Martin and frequently performed piano at the Executive Room bar in Los Angeles.


Scenes From an Italian Restaurant

Release date: September 1977

Noted to be one of his longest tracks, this song is also amongst the most loved tracks of Billy Joel himself. 

Although it wasn't a single, it surely is one of Billy Joel's best songs. Here the artist talks about the high school sweethearts Brenda and Eddie, who couldn’t survive the struggle in the real world.

ALSO READ: Billy Joel's Record-Breaking Madison Square Garden 100th Concert Special Set To Air On CBS; Deets Inside

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FAQs

How old is Billy Joel?
Born on May 9, 1949, Billy Joel is 75 years old.

Who is Billy Joel currently married to?
Billy Joel is currently married to Alexis Roderick.

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