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Song Stories

“Piano Man”

Billy Joel | 1973

Billy Joel’s first hit, “Piano Man,” was – ironically – an autobiographical lament about how his first album wasn’t a hit. When Cold Spring Harbor didn’t take off, Joel briefly became a lounge pianist in Los Angeles, and this song, about that experience, expressed his frustrations and fears at the time: “And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar/And say, ‘Man, what are you doing here?’” “It was all right,” Joel said later, about the gig. “I got free drinks and union scale, which was the first steady money I’d made in a long time.”

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Song Stories

“Vans”

The Pack | 2006

Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

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