Leave A Tender Moment Alone

Album: An Innocent Man (1983)
Charted: 29 27
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Songfacts®:

  • In this ballad from An Innocent Man, Joel's tribute to music of the late '50s and early '60s, the singer is overcome with his feelings for a girl but isn't sure how to express them. Instead of ruining the moment by saying the wrong thing, he decides to relax and "leave a tender moment alone."
  • The album's fifth single, it reached the Top 30 on the Hot 100 and went to #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. In the US, the single's B-side was "This Night"; in the UK, it was a double-A side with "Goodnight Saigon" from The Nylon Curtain.
  • This features veteran jazz musician Toots Thielemans, who's famous for his harmonica playing on a number of film soundtracks, including Midnight Cowboy, and the opening and closing theme songs of long-running PBS series Sesame Street, among other ventures.

    Joel said he finally found the elusive sound he was searching for in Toots' harmonica. "I couldn't find the right instrument for that song. A saxophone? A keyboard? No, I was stuck," he recalled in an anniversary book about the musician. "Until producer Phil Ramone said to me: 'I got the guy!' And he brought Toots Thielemans to the studio. When Toots began to play, my mouth fell open wide. The man was amazing! Toots played one riff after another and every note was like honey.'"
  • Like the Supremes-inspired "Tell Her About It," this also has similarities to Motown hits of the '60s. Says Joel, "'Leave A Tender Moment Alone' sounds like an old Motown-track, like Eddie Kendricks of The Temptations and Smokey Robinson made them. I tried to sing like those Motown-guys, and Toots was like an extra voice dancing happily around mine. He really exudes some incredible energy and joie de vivre.'"
  • In a 2016 Sirius XM interview, Joel also said the rhythm was similar to a Burt Bacharach tune such as "What the World Needs Now Is Love."

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