Billy Joel wrote this Jimi Hendrix-inspired power ballad for his 1989 album, Storm Front. It wasn't released as a single, but it caught the attention of Garth Brooks, who was fast becoming a country phenomenon for his unconventional approach to the genre. Brooks' love of '70s-era rock influenced many of his songs, giving them a broader appeal as country went mainstream (Ropin' The Wind was the first country album to debut at #1 on the Billboard 200).
"Shameless," about a man who is strong enough to resist every temptation until he meets his significant other, became a contemporary country tune with the energy of a rock song. Live country performances were typically staid affairs, but Brooks challenged convention again by belting out this arena rocker accompanied by bursts of pyrotechnics.
During a Q&A session at a 1995 concert in Nuremberg, Germany, Joel told the crowd that he was grateful to Garth Brooks for bringing the song to country fans, many of whom had never heard Joel's music before.
Joel and Brooks sang this together during Joel's Last Play at Shea concerts in 2008. The performance can be seen on the accompanying documentary film, released in 2011, and is featured on the live album Live At Shea Stadium: The Concert. Joel also joined Brooks on stage for "Shameless" when Brooks was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Joel's version landed at #40 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Brooks' cover became his seventh #1 on the country chart.
This is included on Brooks' 1994 compilation album, The Hits. He writes in the liner notes: "'Shameless' was the longest shot we took with a song. I was talked into becoming a member of a CD club... you know, the 40,000 CD's for a penny deal. With those clubs, they write you with the selection of the month. If you don't write back and cancel, then they send it to you and charge you for it. I was on the road for six months with no one to check the mail and came home to find six compact discs in my mailbox. Storm Front by Billy Joel was one of them. I hadn't listened to Billy Joel since the late seventies, probably since Glass Houses. I fell in love with the album and fell back in love with Billy Joel's music. One of his songs really captured me, a song called "Shameless." I kept watching it, and when he did not release it as a single, we contacted his people in the hopes that we could cut it. His people sent us a letter acknowledging that he knew who I was and was very honored that I was cutting it. That was quite a compliment for me then, as it is now. My hope is that Billy, as writer, hears this cut and says, 'Yeah, man, the guy's got balls.'"
Brooks' frequent collaborator Trisha Yearwood, whom he would later marry, provides harmony vocals.