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An Innocent Man

by

Billy Joel



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

On a July 16, 2006 blog for the Australian newspaper The Herald Sun, Billy Joel said that the music for this song was inspired by the songs of Leiber and Stoller, which were recorded by Ben E. King and The Drifters. He added that the words came from personal experience.
The whole An Innocent Man album was done in the style of 1950s and '60s popular music. It was Joel's homage to the '60s-era R&B that he grew up on as well as his own romantic experiences as a teenager. Joel said in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh, "Usually I agonize over every note, but this time the songs came pouring out of me." (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for above 2)
Billy Joel
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Comments (9):

I approach this from the point of view of Brian, it could be about a therapist and client. Except I think it could also be about a loving and deep relationship between friends or lovers. The lyrics describe different ways that people have difficulties in relationships, and how to overcome those difficulties. The key idea is that the innocent man, who understands himself to be innocent, has the capacity to reach out to the one having difficulty. It is when another person's weakness reminds us of our own weakness that we feel guilt and shame and think of ourselves as "guilty" of something. If both people "feel the fear of a touch" , "stay far away from the door" or "will not listen to anyone so noone tells them a lie", then the relationship will be limited. The innocent man is someone who can detach emotionally from another person's issues, yet still feel compassion and empathy, without a sense of being at fault himself. For the innocent man, the relationship is worth having, despite the other person's acknowledged difficulties. This song has very deep things to say about human love.
- Lora , Danbury, CT
ps: Seriously Matt? A drum machine? Amazing what sounds come out of those things!
- ellen, Chicago, IL
Scott, in Melbourne, I fully agree about the finger clicking in concert! In fact, this entire song plays so well in concert, I was sad not to hear it recently when he and Elton John played in Chicago.
- ellen, Chicago, IL
I don't know whether he meant it this way, but the way I see it is that this is a song describing the relationship between a psychotherapist and their client. It fits perfectly except for the emphasis on the therapist being an innocent man. Perhaps it emphasized just to convince a client that the therapist is not like all the others. Give it a listen with this in mind. Every single verse works well with this idea.
- Brian, Chicago, IL
He got the lyrics during a big snow storm in New York. He wandered outside the house to see the snow and he heard a neighbor asking if he was alright. He really didn't want to talk to the guy.

"Some people stay far away from the door
If there's a chance of it opening up
They hear a voice in the hall outside
And hope that it just passes by"

He said the song just took off from there.
- Randy, Reading, PA
Billy Joel ahs written and performed probably the best songs of my generation. What a gift that God has given Billy.Not only the gift of being able to come up with these great lyrics but the ability to put the music to the lyrics, play the instruments, then have a good enough voice to be able to sing the song. He should thank the big guy upstairs EVERY night. As for this song, if I didn't know any better, I could swear Billy was singing about ME.
- Bob, DEER PARK, Long Island, NY
the finger clicks are on a drum machine
- matt, huddersfield, United Kingdom
can anyone else agree with me that he had the loudest and greatest click of the fingers to this song when played live at his concerts. GENIUS.
- scott, melbourne
Great song, can't believe that there are no comments!! it's so true in so many ways. it is amazing how much we shape ourselves to fit in and how unsecure so many people are. great song by a great artist
- enzo, fairbanks, AK
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