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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

“You Oughta Know”

Alanis Morissette | 1995

This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

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