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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

“Bleeding Love”

Leona Lewis | 2007

In 2008, The X Factor winner Leona Lewis backed up her U.K. singing competition victory with an R&B anthem for the ages: "Bleeding Love," an international hit that became the best-selling song of the year. The track was co-penned by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder (whose radio dominance would continue with songs such as Beyonce's "Halo" and Adele's "Rumour Has It") and solo artist Jesse McCartney, who was inspired by a former girlfriend, Gossip Girl actress Katie Cassidy. Given the song's success, McCartney didn't regret handing over such a personal track: "No, no," he said. "I'm so happy for Leona. She deserves it. There are really no bad feelings."

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