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.