It's Still Rock And Roll To Me

Album: Glass Houses (1980)
Charted: 14 1
  • In this song, Billy Joel was making a comment on musical styles and trends. At the end of the disco era, the music press began touting the "New Wave" sound, which included bands like The Police and The Cars. Joel thought that this new sound was just a variation on power-pop that had been around since the '60s. He didn't have a problem with the music, just the way it was being categorized. "I like it, but it's not particularly new," he said.
  • Around this time, Joel was often abased in the music press as a provider of middle-of-the-road dreck. Popular artists are often targets for journalist derision, but while most of these artists choose to ignore it, Joel responded in this song. The lines, "It doesn't matter what they say in the papers, 'cause it's always been the same old scene" and "There's a new band in town, but you can't get the sound from a story in a magazine," were specifically written to attack the press that was bringing him down. While you can real all you want about a singer or band, the only way you'll really know what they sound like is by listening.

    "Sometimes the press gave me a hard time, and liked giving them a hard time back," Joel told Howard Stern in 2014. "In my neighborhood, somebody hits you, you hit them right back."
  • One of Joel's most popular songs, this was his first #1 hit on the Hot 100, spending two weeks at the top spot in July 1980. The single was certified Platinum, which at the time meant sales in excess of 2 million.

    Joel would score two more #1 hits in America: "Tell Her About It" and "We Didn't Start The Fire."
  • "Miracle Mile," as mentioned in the line "Should I get a set of white wall tires? Are you gonna cruise a miracle mile?" is a stretch of road (about a mile long) full of various stores in Manhasset, Long Island near where Joel grew up. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Nicole - Garden City, NY
  • After he wrote this song, Joel says he realized that the chords were the same ones Bob Dylan used on "Lay Lady Lay."
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Comments: 39

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 18th 1980, "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me" by Billy Joel entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #38; eight weeks later on July 13th, 1980 it would peak at #1 {for 2 weeks} and stay on the chart for 21 weeks.,.
    In Canada on August 5rd, 1969 it reached #4 {for 1 week} on Toronto's 'CHUM" Singles chart...
    It did make the Top 10 in Australia when it peaked right at #10 {for 1 week} on the Kent Music chart...
    Between 1973 and 1997 he had forty-two Top 100 records; thirteen made the Top 10 with three reaching #1; his other two #1 records were "It's Still Rock & Roll to Me" in 1980 and "Tell He About It" in 1983...
    He never had a record peak at #2 but did have four reach #3; "Just the Way You Are" {1977}, "My Life" {1978}, "Uptown Girl" {1983}, and "The River of Dreams" {1993}...
    William Martin Joel celebrated his 66th birthday nine days ago on May 9th, 2015.
  • Stephan from Pot Washington, NyMatt in New York, the Americana Manhasset was opened up in 1959, a good portion of his songs were about Long Island, it would stand to reason that the Miracle Mile referred to is that one.
  • Ivy from Springfield, Ne@ Barry - I'm going to guess Abercrombie. That's the best store around!
  • Michael from Illinois, IlI'm sorry. This is one of the worst songs I ever
    heard. It's snot rock. It's irritating. It's like
    he's going, "Nanya Nanya Nanya." The whole album
    is horrible. He makes the arrogant mistake that
    he's a Rock N Roller, ooooo. He assumes he can
    take his place next to Bruce, Neil Young, Bob
    Seger, whom ever. When a Billy Joel song comes
    on I dive for the radio.
  • Paul from Glen Cove, NyI tend to agree with grew up in Manhasset I am Long Island born and raised. I know Billy is originally from Nassau county (Hicksville) He did live in LA for some time, and yes there is a Miracle mile there.The Miracle Mile in Manhasset is what Billy sang about.It was never a place to pick up girls, and the only gathering place for many years was an ice cream parlor called Swensons I have a feeling that folks simply assumed that Manhasset was what Billy was singing about.Yes He now lives on Long island again out in Suffolk county
  • Grizzly from Panohai, PaMatthew in NY,NY, W.A.Y. did record "It's Still Billy Joel to Me." I only heard it once on The Doctor Demento Show. Some of the lyrics as I remember them: What's the matter with the tune he's writin'? Well you you know it's gonna be a smash. It's so nice when you're a big-name artist; doesn't matter if it sounds like trash. Don't ya know about the record business, honey? All ya need are looks and a whole lotta money. It's a big hit, isn't it, even if it sounds like (censored). It's still Billy Joel to me.
  • Andy from B'ham, AlI agree with Billy Joel. Well, not completely. It's not all "rock-and-roll", but it's all still "rock" to me. I like anything in the genre of "rock", whether in the '50s, '80s, or anywhere between.
    By the way, it's likely that someone's sung the lyrics of the hymn "Victory in Jesus" to this same tune. It doesn't fit exactly perfectly, but it fits quite swell. Other hymns contain lyrics that probably fit this tune as well or better than these, but I don't have the time right now to go and hunt.
  • Calvin from Tucson, AzWell, Weird Al wrote something more acceptable the next time ("Ode to a Superhero" used the tune and bits of lyrics from "Piano Man")
  • Sal from New York, NyMy family is from the Manhasset area. While the high-end chains that Barry mentions weren't around in the 70's the "Miracle Mile" has always been a major spot for high-end shopping on Long Island. Even as far back as the 50's it was home to high end Boutiques.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyJoel said that this song was a fictious dialogue between a young performer and his manager who was trying to get him to adopt the current music fads.
  • Matt from New York, NyThere is another Miracle Mile...it's a very famous district in Los Angeles. It sprung up in the 1920s and is home to many high-rise buildings and museums. It's also a considerably affluent district and was once acclaimed as "America's Champs-Élysées." If Barry is right, and Long Island's "Miracle Mile" was still in development at the time of the song, then perhaps Joel is referring to this section of L.A. In fact, Joel spent some time out in L.A. in the early 70's, working at a piano bar that would later be immortalized in a rather famous song. It stands as reason enough that Joel is really referring to L.A. and not L.I.
  • Cindyfromcincy from Muncie, InPeter from Northridge, CA -- You're right, Richie was his sax player back then. Joel is saying, 'All right, Rico," and would vary this sometimes during a live performance. I'm an 'old' friend of Liberty DeVitto's -- Joel's drummer, and believe it or not, I had a very obnoxious pair of bright orange pants that I wore way back in the day. Sound familiar?
  • John from Fort Worth, TxI have always loved this song since it was new and I always sang along with it and I even bought a "45" of it, back in the day, learn the words. These days I sing along with it when it's played on the radio while I'm driving in my car.
    For so many years my most favorite part has been the "Ooooooooo...Whoo!" at the end. Listen for it.

    John, 45
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScWell said Dennis. Don't think I could have said it better myself. I don't read Rolingstone, but I've heard similar things about it, and some of the music that's Billy Jole makes a good point in this one.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaJeez, anyone who slaps Weird Al Yankovic takes themselves too seriously. Worst #1, jeez, how about music nowadays! Charlie from CT, Scott, Adam and Dennis are right. I wonder if Joel would let Weird Al do the song now, since he's more established.
  • Barry from New York, NyI live near the "Miracle Mile" located on Northern Boulevard in Manhasset. There are a few major shopping centers like Lord & Taylor, Filene's Basement, Abercrombie, Gap, etc. etc. Back in 1979 when Billy wrote this song, most of these fine high class stores were not in existance. So I always wonder what stores he was singing about!!
  • Dennis from Anchorage, AkCritics tore Joel to pieces over this song and the Glass Houses album in general for being so "commercial." But what the album really is is a testament to Joel's love of pop music in all it's many styles. It is not at all uncommon for a piano player to be very versatile musically if he has any real talent, and to develop a love of a lot of different musical genres. Since rock music tends to be dominated by guitarists who develop a signature playing style, the rock establishment tends to revere distinctive style and technique over versatility. By refusing to go along with that expectation, Joel became something of a rebel, which one would hope rock artists, of all people would applaud. But the rock establishment, as beautifully typified by the self-important rag Rolling Stone, does not realize that it has become the establishment it once rejected.
  • Adam from Toronto, CanadaI think this song is a pretty blatant shot at rock critics/journalists and their need to label music and inform the public what and who is hot. "But you can't get the sound from a story in a magazine...
    Aimed at your average teen."
    He is saying you can call it what you want; "Hot funk, cool punk, even if it's old junk" but it's all just rock and roll. This is pretty much calling out rock journalists as self serving; i.e if we are just going to enjoy the music and do what we want we don't need Rolling Stone (and hence journalists) to tell us what's cool, and who to listen to and what to call it. I think it lends great creadence to the song that Rolling Stone chose to rank it as it did.
  • Peter from Northridge, CaIn case anyone cares, Billy is saying "All right,
    Rico!" to kick off the sax solo. "Rico" is Richie Cannata, Joel's sax player for years.
    It's not "All right Big Man."

    Peter, Los Angeles
  • Ken from Louisville, KyThis was Billy Joel's response to the "punk", "new wave" and disco movements of the late 70's and early 80's. It it supposed to be a parody of all of those styles.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyBilly Joel has been quoted as saying that all of his #1 songs have been "novelty" songs, they really didn't represent his body of work. He said this prior to "River Of Dreams".

  • Bob from Kelowna, CanadaAs I was browsing the magazines at the local book store the other day, i couldnt help but notice ashton kutcher on the cover... Does it seem odd that a music magazine is no longer promoting music... That's all I have to say about Rolling Stone. As far as the song goes, its extremely catchy, possibly Joel's most catchy song. The lyrical content isnt anything deep, and the beat isn't complex, but this song has something very lovable about it.
  • Nessie from Sapporo, JapanGood song, not great song. Not worst #1 ever. Joes is a great performer and an amazing songwriter. Many of his songs suffer from cheesy production. That's why he gets so much grief. And he should. He's big enough to find a producer that can help him go easy on the cheese. But would it still be Billy Joel without the cheese? I'll leave that for the philosophers to decide.
  • Ira from Milford, CtBilly Joel, a native Lawn-guylander, like me, is a very talented artist. Not only in the tunes he's crafted, but some of the poetry/lyrics. You can't listen to some of his tunes without stepping back and realizing that he is talking about all of us. Who didn't/doesn't know a Brenda & Eddie??? Allentown, Downeaster Alexa and many more speak to those who work a trade. C'mon, you don't have to love his music, but you gotta respect it and his place in musical history.

  • Scott from St. Louis, MoBilly Joel and Springsteen are probably my two favorite musicians, and I think this is Billy's most Springsteenesque song. Does it sound to anyone else like he's saying "Allright, Big man!" a la Bruce, leading into the sax solo?
  • Joe from West Creek, NjI think it's not right that Billy Joel gets so much criticism. He's a really good songwriter, and he's written many songs that are well written and arranged, not to mention melodic as hell. Anyone who says all of Billy's songs sounds the same obviously hasn't heard much Billy Joel besides his recent hits from the late 80s and early 90s. He's quite a diverse artist to me, and this song is a fine throwback to the days of 50's rockabilly with more modern production. "Worst number 1 hit" my ass. They're apparently overlooking all the horrible number 1 hits that chart nowadays.
  • Liquid Len from Ottawa, CanadaCertainly, Rolling Stone magazine had some very vicious things to say about Joel's music. I used to read the reviews and think, calm down guys, you'd think he was responsible for everything wrong in the world, from starvation to nuclear war. Just a Beatleish funk song, simple but has a good melody, and a good standard 80s saxophone/lawnmower solo.
  • Chris from Marana, AzSomewhere along the line it became fashionable to bash Billy Joel. I am not a fan of all of his stuff (Especially his last pop record), however an interesting story was that when I was working at a radio station in college, we had to literally ban Billy Joel. The station was 100% free-form, and what would happen is everyone had 2 or 3 favorite Billy Joel songs, and so in the course of a single day you'd hear, say, 10 Billy Joel songs...every day of the year. Eventually those of us who spent a lot of time at the radio station had to simply ban Billy Joel because we were clawing our faces off.

    If anything though, this is a testimony to the man's popularity. I think Keepin the Faith is about as fine a sentiment as you can put into a song ("The good old days weren't always good / And tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems..."). Scenes from an Italian Restaurant is charming and sad, and Pressure is still a cool song. There are many others. I was a bit young when "Still Rock and Roll to Me" came out but I am certain that if I was little older, it would echo my sentiments completely.
  • David from Paoli, Pa"It's Still Billy Joel To Me" was written and recorded in 1980, three years before Yankovic so much as published an album. It's a bit harsh to color his entire career with it.
  • Geoff from Nacle, NjDave (and others)- I've gotta disagree with you on calling piano man Billy Joel's "one truly good song." There is no possible that anyone can claim all his songs sound alike. I would reccomend most of his songs on "The Stranger." Scenes from an Italian Resturaunt, Movin' Out, Vienna, The Stranger etc. Anyways, give those a shot, i dont think you'll be dissapointed.
  • Charlie from Thomaston, Ctwell, i have two things to say about this song, well actually three things but thats beside the point, anyway, most of my freinds love billy joel, they have alot of his cds and stuff. i think hes pretty good too, hes made some great tunes, and all his songs don't! sound the same, he's a pretty good artist and so boo on you people who don't like him! also although i like billy joel, i don't blame weird al for his parady and i think weird al is hilarious and very talented so boo and you people who don't like old yankovic too!!!!! (there both great!)
  • Mike from Omaha, Nescenes of an italian restauarant; the stranger; pressure; river of dreams; say goodbye to hollywood. dave i understand thinking we didn't start the fire isn't good, but listen to these tunes and see if you don't like bj just a little more. if not, so be it
  • Dave from Oshawa, CanadaI have to agree with Nate, I think Billy Joel was a mediocre talent at best, although God knows Piano Man is a truly classic song, but what has he ever done to even approach that level of creativity again? Nothing, Rock and Roll is just a simple pop song, that could have been written by any number of pop musicians who couldn't write a true lasting hit if they had detailed instructions on how to do so. You might argue that It's Still Rock and Roll To Me is still popular, but only in a very mild way, it doesn't come close to getting the rotation of his one truly good song, which of course is Piano Man. We Didn't Start the Fire, well that's just plain drivel, crapola, sorry people, but that's my oppinion, carry on.
  • Katie from Prince George, Canadaeverytime i listen to that song, i fall in love with it all over again. rolling stone and weird al can leave billy alone and let him do his magic. i love the lines "nowadays you cant be too sentimental, your best bets a true baby blue continental" and by george hes right!!
  • Brett from Edmonton, CanadaUm... Rolling Stone... ever heard a little song called "Oops! I Did it Again"? Oh, wait, I forgot; you don't have musical taste. Billy Joel rules.
  • Nate from Pelican Rapids, MnWorst #1...that just shows how stupid Rolling Stone is.
  • Nicoletta from Bronx, NyBrinkley stole his heart and money...how can rolling stone say something like that? this is a great song.
  • Matthew from New York, NyAccording to legend, Weird Al Yankovich wrote a parody of this song called "It's Still Billy Joel to me" (I have the mp3). When he played the song for Billy Joel and his wife at the time, Christie Brinkley, they were so insulted that Brinkley slapped Yankovich. Naturally, Joel refused to give him permission to record the song.
  • Matthew from New York, NyWas ranked by Rolling Stone once as the worst #1 hit of all time.
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