Billy Joel: “Captain Jack”

ALBUM: Piano Man

YEAR: 1973

WRITER: Billy Joel

The seven-minute-plus track was never released as a single, but became an album rock radio staple, particularly on the East Coast and especially in the Philadelphia area.

A live recording of “Captain Jack,” done in a 1972 session for Philadelphia’s WMMR, became the most requested song in the station’s history. That led directly to Joel’s signing with Columbia Records, where he remains to this day. Joel tells what inspired him to write it. “I was living in Oyster Bay at the time and I had this apartment that kind of looked out on the street. And I was just playing this riff and was looking out the window. And what I was seeing going on outside, the life, it was almost like an Edward Hopper painting. There were these scenes going on, these images going on, and I was putting together composites of experiences people were having. That was just literally translated from the street, it wasn’t autobiographical. It was more or less composites of people that I knew, projecting what some guy was doing with his life.”

10 years ago today (October 11th, 2007), Billy Joel received the Master Builder Award from The Foundation for Long Island State Parks, in recognition of his entertainment achievements and efforts to protect local maritime industries.


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