Worse Comes To Worst

Album: Piano Man (1973)
Charted: 80
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • The follow-up single to his signature hit "Piano Man," this funky rock tune finds the singer facing an uncertain future out on the open road, but he's determined to persevere no matter what challenges he faces.
  • In a 2016 interview with Sirius XM, Joel said this song actually predicted his future stint as a lounge act, which in turn inspired "Piano Man."

    "The song was pretty much autobiographical. It was right before I got the job at the piano bar in LA," he recalled. "I left New York when I realized I was in a horrible deal with the Artie Ripp thing [the contract with Ripp's label stripped Joel of his publishing rights], and I drove across country to go to Los Angeles. 'I'll write my songs on my road guitar and make a livin' in a piano bar.' And that's exactly what I ended up doing."
  • Joel made the cross-country trip with his girlfriend/future wife Elizabeth Weber and her 5-year-old son, Sean. Joel's claim that he knows a woman in New Mexico is a reference to Elizabeth's younger sister, Josephine, whom they planned to visit in Albuquerque (she also inspired Joel's 1971 cut "Josephine").

    The singer was anxious about the ramifications of skipping out on his record deal and wasn't sure if he'd be able to make it in LA. "I didn't know what the future was going to hold. I didn't know how we were going to make ends meet," he told biographer Fred Schruers. "We had no prospects. Everything felt so uncertain. I was trying to make the best out of a bad situation. This meant going into hiding, and there were all kinds of legal and contractual obligations."

    Joel ended up signing a deal with Columbia Records, but Ripp still had a lock on his publishing rights until CBS Records president Walter Yetnikoff bought them back as a birthday present for the singer. Joel's albums also had to bear Ripp's Family Productions logo up through 1986's The Bridge.

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Donnie Iris (Ah! Leah!, The Rapper)

Donnie Iris (Ah! Leah!, The Rapper)Songwriter Interviews

Before "Rap" was a form of music, it was something guys did to pick up girls in nightclubs. Donnie talks about "The Rapper" and reveals the identity of Leah.

George Harrison

George HarrisonFact or Fiction

Did Eric Clapton really steal George's wife? What's the George Harrison-Monty Python connection? Set the record straight with our Fact or Fiction quiz.

Martin Page

Martin PageSongwriter Interviews

With Bernie Taupin, Martin co-wrote the #1 hits "We Built This City" and "These Dreams." After writing the Pretty Woman song for Go West, he had his own hit with "In the House of Stone and Light."

Eagles Lyrics Quiz

Eagles Lyrics QuizMusic Quiz

Lots of life lessons in these Eagles lyrics - can you match them to the correct song?

Country Song Titles

Country Song TitlesFact or Fiction

Country songs with titles so bizarre they can't possibly be real... or can they?

Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & PalmerSongwriter Interviews

Greg talks about writing songs of "universal truth" for King Crimson and ELP, and tells us about his most memorable stage moment (it involves fireworks).