Billy Joel's 'The Stranger' at 40: A Track-by-Track Guide

The Piano Man was on the verge of getting dropped by his label when he unleashed the biggest album of his career

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Billy Joel didn't spend much time with his father as a kid, but a few years after his career took off he visited him in Vienna, Austria, and they reconnected. On the trip, Billy saw an old lady sweeping the streets and told his father he pitied her for having to do such menial work. "She's being useful and she's doing a service that benefits everyone," said his father. "She's not just sitting at home wasting away, and she's got dignity." It made Joel realize that Austrians have a very different perspective on life than Americans, and he also found himself enjoying the slower pace of existence there. All of this was poured into the lyrics for "Vienna." "We tend to put older people away, and it's all about young people," Joel said. "Well, wait a minute, why do I have this whole lifespan? What's the point of it?" 

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