Watch Billy Joel Play ‘Los Angelenos’ For First Time in 42 Years
Billy Joel dug deep into his catalog Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden and played “Los Angelenos” for the first time since 1981. “We never do this song,” he told the crowd. “We haven’t done this since the Eighties I think. We’ll give it a shot.” Here’s a fan-shot video of the performance.
Joel wrote “Los Angelenos” while living in Los Angeles in the early Seventies. He moved to the city after his debut LP Cold Spring Harbor sold poorly, and he famously found work at the Executive Room piano bar on Wilshire Boulevard. His experiences at the bar inspired “Piano Man,” and “Los Angelenos” takes a broader look at outsiders that move to the city. “Tanning out in the beaches,” he sings. “With their Mexican reefers/No one ever has to feel like a refugee.”
“Los Angelenos” is the second track on 1974’s Streetlife Serenade, which was largely panned by critics and ignored by the public. “Billy Joel’s schmaltz occupies a stylistic no man’s land where musical and lyric truisms borrowed from disparate sources are forced together,” Rolling Stone‘s Stephen Holden wrote in a scathing review. “The opening cut, ‘Streetlife Serenader,’ fails to develop a melody or lyrical theme. ‘Los Angelenos’ presents a hackneyed picture postcard of L.A. as a sexual wasteland.”
In later years, Joel said that his early albums were uneven since he wasn’t allowed to record with his touring band. “They were all done mostly with session guys, and I didn’t like the way those records sounded,” he told Rolling Stone in 2013. “I didn’t like those performances. I thought they were very polished and kinda slick and formulaic. I wanted my own sound. I wanted my own band. I wanted the New York, Long Island guys.”
Oh-So-Mature Trump Aides Want Him to Focus on DeSantis’ Penis
Ariana Madix Releases 'F-ck Me in This T-Shirt' Merch After Tom Sandoval’s ‘Sick’ Reunion Comment
He Spent a Decade Trying to Prove His Parents Killed His Teen Sister
‘Vanderpump Rules’ Reunion Twist: Was Raquel’s Confession Worth the Wait?
After nearly being dropped by his label, he teamed up with producer Phil Ramone for 1977’s The Stranger. He was also allowed to use his road band at the sessions. The result was an enormous hit that turned him into a superstar. And in 1981, he went back to his early work on the live album Songs in the Attic to showcase how his touring band had transformed the songs. A July 10, 1980 performance of “Los Angelenos” from Toad’s Place in New Haven, Connecticut, was one of them.
Songs in the Attic introduced “Los Angelenos” to Billy Joel fans that came on board with The Stranger, but he dropped it from his live repertoire after a July 1, 1981 show at Sparks in Huntington, New York. It received a very warm reception at Madison Square Garden when he brought it back on Tuesday. “Thank you,” Joel said during the applause. “That’s what I thought too.”