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."
Suggestion credit: 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.
Neil from Detroit, MiBy way of this song, and through my admiration of Billy in general, I've developed this very subtle connection and love for New York. I've never lived in New York City, and been there only once, yet this connection has been tugging on me since listening to this song.
Dt from Gulf Breeze, FlFantastic arrangement. The strings, the sax and Billy as always, is great on the keys.
Tacey from New Milford, NjThe most beautiful Love song ever written to New York. It warms me EVERY time I hear it. I agree with the poster who said "It feels like home". Living in New Jersey, looking at that skyline, reading the Daily News Every day, making an event out of going to "The City"...This song IS home.
Adele from Boca Raton, FlJoel is a multi-talented personality and I've only appreciated his genius recently.
Jay from Brooklyn, NyTo my fellow New Yorkers: Have you ever been out of town on business or vacation and heard this song? It sounds like home. It feels like home. Can you listen to this song and not smile? I can see in my mind's eye the bustle and the grandeur and the beauty of the City. I see the grimy newstands and the man standing on the corner playing his horn for change from passersby. I hear the million snippets of conversation, the arguments large and small, you hear as you walk down the any major street. This song is New York, and I do not think anyone has so perfectly captured the City in lyric. To everyone not from New York: visit us some time. You'll love it and we'll treat you right, even if you, like Scott from St. Louis, hate the Yankees and Mets. Most everyone hates one or the other, so you'll have plenty to talk about.
Tom from Auckland,I just heard this song, perhaps for the first time, at the Billy Joel concert in Auckland (December 2008). First I thought I was hearing Ray Charles (both voice and piano). Then I thought it might be Billy Joel again. Then Frank Sinatra. And I'll bet that in my musically undeveloped state I missed others. Billy Joel is phenomenal: a great entertainer.
April from Baltimore, MdEven though there may be no "Hudson River Line" on Greyhound, I believe it could represent his ideal path to travel. On a bus, you aren't driving so you have this large expanse of time to just reflect and take in the scenery, and I think the Huson River area would be the place he would pick. Plus, the senic nature of the area provides a sharp contrast to the L.A. scene he had just got away from.
Jodi from London, OnRussell Farmer does a pretty kick-ass cover of this one.
Ken from Louisville, KyJoel admits there is no Greyhound "Hudson River Line". That was artisic license.
Dave from Scottsdale, AzThe first time I heard this song was a cover by the Mark-Almond band which may have come out before Joel released it on one "Turnstiles". Both albums were released in 1976.
Lester from New York City, NyLeslie West does a GREAT cover of this song.
Jim from Denver, CoYou just can't get enough of Billy Joel's music. It is such a distict style that takes you away to a common man's world.
Chris from Seattle, WaBack in high school, I was a big Billy Joel fan, but my girlfried thought Barbara Streisand was the greatest. One day, she was playing a Streisand album and "New York State of Mind" came on. I picked up the album jacket and told my girlfriend, "take a look at who wrote this song." She never criticized Mr. Joel again.
Hector from New York, NyThis is one of the best songs I probably ever heard every time I feel like writing I can listen to this song and fall in love with the greatest city of all time all over and over again it is such a incredible song
Patrick from Tallapoosa, GaA great song that depicts that no matter how wonderful other places may be, how fancy the people are, or how well your life may be there, there's no place like home.
Patrick from Tallapoosa, GaWas released as the "B" side to the single "Say Goodbye to Hollywood".
Ken from Louisville, Ky"Seen all the movie stars, in their fancy cars and limousines" is a reference to Joel's years living in Los Angeles in the early 1970's.
Carlo from Phila, PaA great song about a great place. But since 9/11 it has become an Anthem. I listen to it when I need aboost and it never fails me. I was born in Philly, traveled the world and now live in NJ. But, when I hear that song I'm a New Yorker through and through.
Joe from Pine Bush, NyI live in the Hudson Valey, and I just have to say that Billy Joel has done a wonderfull job of depicting this beautifull state of ours, and since I have lived in Orange County, New York my entire life, I have experienced the beauty of our state many a time, boating into New York City, or watersking between Storm King and Breaneck Mountains, it is all beautifull, and he has made this very clear and expressed it very eliquently in this song.......His music has inspired me years ago to begin the piano, and since then, I have been pursuing my goal of learning all of his songs.......
Craig from Madison, WiIsn't this song about New York state? NYC is a big city, but not so big you need a Greyhound to traverse it. He's going up the Hudson River Valley, a place whose beauty is particularly remarkable considering that we've had nearly 400 years to mess it up.
Robert from Puyallup, WaThis song conveys such a wonderful sense of community, it makes me love New York City, and I've never even been there.
Ken from Louisville, KyFellow New Yorker Barbara Steisand did a well-received cover version of this song not long after it was released on Joel's "Turnstiles" LP.
Ken from Louisville, KyIn concert, Joel includes the newspapers "New York Post, and Newsday, too" after the lines about "the New York Times, the Daily News."
Ken from Louisville, KyThis is the song the Mets play after every home victory at Shea Stadium, the same as the Yankees playing Sinatra's version of "New York, New York" after every win at Yankee Stadium. Ironically, Joel is a huge Yankees fan!
Nessie from Sapporo, JapanA masterpiece.
Scott from St. Louis, MoI've never been to New York. I hate the Yankees, hate the Mets. That being said, this song makes me wish I lived in New York. It's as beautiful a love letter that has ever been written to a city.
Madison from Atlanta, Gahe performed this on a special to raise money for families of firefighters after 9/11. it was amazing.
Rick from Buffalo, NyBilly Joel has said he always hoped to play this with Ray Charles like he did with Baby Grand. He also has said that he intended this song to be played on a grand piano on home base at Shea Stadium.