This was influenced by Ray Charles, who like Joel was a singer, songwriter and piano player. Joel did a duet with Charles in 1986 on his song "Baby Grand."
Joel grew up in Long Island, near New York City. He had just returned to New York after living in Los Angeles for four years. He wrote this song about his love for New York, which he missed while he was away.
When Joel appeared on The Howard Stern Show in 2010, he said that he wrote the song on the day he moved back from California to New York. He really was taking a Greyhound on the Hudson River line - he was on his way home to Highland Falls, New York when he started writing the song in a notebook. As soon as he got home, he went to the piano and finished the words and lyrics in about an hour.
Another song on the Turnstiles
album, "Say Goodbye To Hollywood
," also expresses Joel's feelings about leaving California for New York, which he considers home.
In 2017, Joel told Rolling Stone
that "New York State Of Mind" was his favorite among his songs, because it "became a standard." Said Joel: "Sort of like Hoagy Carmichael's 'Stardust
' or 'Georgia On My Mind
.' It became one of those songs."
This wasn't released as a single, but it became one of Joel's most popular songs and was included on his album Greatest Hits - Volume I & Volume II
, which sold over 23 million copies in America. It was also released as the B-side to the single "Say Goodbye to Hollywood."
Patrick - Tallapoosa, GA
This is one of the most famous songs about New York City. Some others are "New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra, "On Broadway" by The Drifters, and "New York City Serenade" by Bruce Springsteen.
Joel performed this at the 2001 "Tribute To Heroes" telethon to benefit victims of the terrorist attacks on the US. To honor the rescue workers who lost their lives in the tragedy, Joel played with the helmet of one of the New York City Firefighters who died in The World Trade Center on his piano.
Tony Bennett recorded a version with Joel that was released as a single and included on Bennett's 2001 album Playin' with My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues. The two performed the song at the Grammy Awards in 2002, where it was nominated for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. It was a touching moment: Bennett and Joel wore tuxedos and sang over a backdrop of the New York City skyline as it looked before the terrorist attacks.
Some of the many artists to record this song include Mel Tormé, Diane Schuur and Barbra Streisand.
Floyd Pepper of The Muppets house band The Electric Mayhem had one of his finest moments when he performed this song on a Season 2 episode of The Muppet Show.
Joel played this at a celebration party for Hillary Clinton when she was elected Senator in New York State in 2001. During the campaign, her opponent, Rudy Giuliani, accused Clinton of supporting drug use when she played Joel's "Captain Jack" at a fundraiser.