An Innocent Man

Album: An Innocent Man (1984)
Charted: 8 10
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Songfacts®:

  • 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."

Comments: 14

  • Michael from VirginiaThis song always reminds me of a girl I knew from high school. She was attacked by a man that hit her on the forehead and damaged her skull. Then went on to violently rape her. "Robyn" never fully recovered from this. These lyrics really hit me hard when I visit her grave "I know you don't want to hear what I say I know you're gonna keep turning away" "Robyn" took her life about 5 years after being attacked. She simply tuned all of us out. Many times after paying my respects I have caught myself muttering those words, "I am an innocent man".
  • Lee from New YorkBeautifully written comment Lora from Danbury. Amazing song!
  • Lisa from Lake Mary, FlI always thought Billy was singing to a girl that he was in a relationship with who had been raped or abused in the past. She was dealing with PTSD and he was reassuring her that he's not like the guy who had hurt her.
  • Michael from Wilmington DeSo I'm at Billy Joel concert in Philly August 13 2013. Billy's wife had given birth the day before and He's clearly inspired. Maternity video during My Life, amazing 1970's era song choices and He crushes An Innocent Man. I'm stunned. He had not played it very much since 1984 tour of that LP. And that tour he had a 5 man backing vocal choir with a designated "High" vocal guy. And He explained in 1984 that He had sung that part on the record but could ruin his voice for the rest of the show if he went too high. So 2015 was a mystery...........Until a few months ago I stumbled across Mike DelGiudice and Big Shot a tribute band on YouTube killing Innocent Man. And suddenly mystery solved......Mike was hired by Billy in 2014 to play guitar and sing background. And does so with power and style. And He's helping Billy be amazing at 70 years of age. May of 2019 in Philly with Jason Bonham guesting With Billy they went into Whole Lotta Love and Mike sang lead and killed it.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyPer: http://www.oldiesmusic.com/news.htm
    Billy Joel's wife, Alexis, gave birth to a baby girl named Della Rose on August 12th, 2015.
    The baby weighed in at 7 pounds, 6.5 ounces...
    Billy also has a 29 year-old daughter...
    Congratulations and best wishes to the Piano Man and his family.
  • Lora from Danbury, CtI 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.
  • Ellen from Chicago, Ilps: Seriously Matt? A drum machine? Amazing what sounds come out of those things!
  • Ellen from Chicago, IlScott, 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.
  • Brian from Chicago, IlI 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.
  • Randy from Reading, PaHe 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.
  • Bob from Deer Park, Long Island, NyBilly 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.
  • Matt from Huddersfield, United Kingdomthe finger clicks are on a drum machine
  • Scott from Melbournecan 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.
  • Enzo from Fairbanks, AkGreat 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
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