Big Shot

Album: 52nd Street (1978)
Charted: 14
Play Video
  • Well, you went uptown riding in your limousine
    With your fine Park Avenue clothes
    You had the Dom Perignon in your hand
    And the spoon up your nose
    And when you wake up in the morning
    With your head on fire
    And your eyes too bloody to see
    Go on and cry in your coffee
    But don't come bitchin' to me

    Because you had to be a big shot, didn't you
    You had to open up your mouth
    You had to be a big shot, didn't you
    All your friends were so knocked out
    You had to have the last word, last night
    You know what everything's about
    You and to have a white hot spotlight
    You had to be a big shot last night

    They were all impressed with your Halston dress
    And the people that you knew at Elaine's
    And the story of your latest success
    Kept 'em so entertained
    Oh, but now you just don't remember
    All the things you said
    And you're not sure you want to know
    I'll give you one hint, honey
    You sure did put on a show

    Yes, yes, you had to be a big shot, didn't you
    You had to prove it to the crowd
    You had to be a big shot, didn't you
    All your friends were so knocked out
    You had to have the last word, last night
    So much fun to be around
    You had to have the front page, bold type
    You had to be a big shot last night

    Well, it's no big sin to stick your two cents in
    If you know when to leave it alone
    But you went over the line
    You couldn't see it was time to go home
    No, no, no, no, no, no, you had to be a big shot, didn't you
    You had to open up your mouth
    You had to be a big shot, didn't you
    All your friends were so knocked out
    You had to have the last word, last night
    So much fun to be around
    You had to have a white hot spotlight
    You had to be a big shot last night

    Big shot
    Big shot
    Big shot
    Big shot
    Big shot
    Big shot Writer/s: BILLY JOEL
    Publisher: Universal Music Publishing Group
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Comments: 32

  • Tum Tum from Saint Pedro Island. I think this song is about himself. He had problems with booze and coke. He is an egomaniac and you can imagine how he would be on coke.
  • Mike from New YorkTo the 3rd comment from the top:
    What the hell does some tribute bar band have anything to do with the Songfacts and the writing and recording of "Big Shot"?
    Your post reads like some kind of tacky plug for a cover band. Stay focused.
  • Debby from UsaThe song is about Bianca Jagger. It was in reference to Bianca's Studio 54 behavior as told by Mick to Billy Joel during a conversation.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 2 1979, Billy Joel was one of the acts* to perform at the three-day 'Havana Jam' festival at the Karl Marx Auditorium in Havana, Cuba...
    At the time his "Big Shot" was at #23 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; a little over two weeks later on March 18th it would peak at #14 {for 2 weeks} and it spent 11 weeks on the chart...
    Between 1974 and 1997 he had forty-two Top 100 records; thirteen made the Top 10 with three reaching #1, "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me" for 2 weeks in 1980, "Tell Her About It" for 1 week in 1983, and "We Didn't Start the Fire" for 2 weeks in 1989...
    He never had a #2 record but had four peak at #3; "Just the Way You Are", "My Life", "Uptown Girl", and "The River of Dreams"...
    William Martin Joel will celebrate his 67 birthday in two months on May 9th {2016}...
    * Other acts on the bill were Stephen Stills, Kris Kristofferson, Rita Coolridge, Billy Swan, & the Weather Report; it was the first time in more than twenty years that pop artists had been allowed to performed in Cuba.
  • Shannon from Prineville, OrI tend to believe that the song really is about Bianca, However, he may have his reasons to want to keep that out of the public now for whatever. Maybe Bianca has had her fair share of demons that she has overcome and asked him not to share that story anymore. Who knows. HOWEVER..... I have a hard time
    picturing his Male Manager in a Halston Dress. BUT .....THEN AGAIN?! It was a WILD decade! And if you can remember it, then you probably weren't there! haha!
  • Dave from Peoria, Az11/16/10 Billy Joel was interviewed by Howard Stern today. He said this song was about the time he went to dinner with Mick and Bianca Jagger and Mick and Bianca got into a fight. Mick said to her, "You had to be a big shot, didn't you!" Joel then went on to sing the song as Mick would. It was awesome. Baba Booey, and Stern rules.
  • Valentin from Beijing, ChinaChuck from Houston, I agree, almost like Bennie and the Jets. I would add that in the end sounds a bit like Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting, also from GBYBR
  • Andrew from Lincoln Park, NjI thought the woman was his wife at the time.
  • Jennifer Harris from Grand Blanc, MiI like this song,too.I know it's about a big shot,but I don't knnow who this woman is.
  • Saff from Melbourne, AustraliaAccording to an interview Billy Joel gave in 2006, he has never had a date with Bianca Jagger, so the song is definitely not about her.
  • Ian from Paddock Lake, WiAnd obviously the spoon line is a cocaine reference.
  • G from Potomac, MdThe first album released on CD was Brothers in Arms. Cheers
  • Randy from Reading, PaI heard interviews with him where he said this about a hangover. You get up look at yourself in the mirror and say you had to be a big shot
  • Nicki from Seattle, WaWhat the comments don't consider is that the song could be about BOTH his business manager AND his ex-wife all in the same person. (Smile.) The timeframe works, as Joel married his business manager Elizabeth Weber in 1973 and divorced her in '82. (He mistakenly allowed her to continue repping him for awhile, but her brother embezzled all his savings. This according to Wikipedia.)
  • Ken from Louisville, KyI've recently read where this song might have been inspired by Joel's first wife. After Joel became famous, she hit the New York party scene to show off as the "rock star's wife", which Joel detested.
  • Clark from Milroy, PaFoolish Pride by Daryl Daryl
    to Matthew, Milford, MA
  • Snoop from Sapporo, JapanTo Annabelle, Eugene, OR:

    The verse goes:

    "When you wake up in the morning with your head on fire and your eyes to bloody to see...GO ON AND CRY IN YOUR COFFEE, but don't come bitchin' to me"...

    Great line !
  • Chuck from Houston, TxI'm a fan of both Billy Joel and Elton John, who have preformed together when I was in High School, which is why I must say the Piano rifs in this song sound very similuar to sir Eltons hit "Benny and the Jets" from the "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" album which predates this song by about 5 years... Inspired?.. Ripped Off... or maybe I'm just wrong.
  • Ben from Pensacola, Fl"When I hear this line, it sounds something like, "Gonna cry in your carpet." I believe it's coffee not carpet. Reference to nursing a hangover the next morning.
  • Annabelle from Eugene, OrThere's one line in this song, that I have a hard time understanding. When I hear this line, it sounds something like, "Gonna cry in your carpet." How can you cry into a carpet? Won't it become soaked with your tears?
  • Mike from Hueytown , AlAnother kick ass Billy Joel song ! Boy he had an attitude in his music back then.
  • Matthew from Milford, MaHmm... I thought this song was about the dangers of excessive pride... could you point me out to a song that is?
  • Pete from Nowra, AustraliaBill Joel what a performer ...great stuff
  • Gustavo from Arlington, VaI believe former MLB pitcher Steve Howe had this song played when he came in for relief during away games. Howe was suspended a record 7 times for substance abuse. The line "spoon up your nose" seems to be the line I remember.
  • Tom from Norman, OkIt seems pretty clear to me - he's commenting on the excess of the late '70s party lifestyle. Get drunk, get coked out, go and make a general fool of yourself like everyone else, then wake up the next day feeling awful, irritated at all the stupid things you did. And there's no indication that it's going to change any time soon.
  • Leyna from SpI love the way he struts around in the video... Billy's got a lot of character!
  • Jon from Charlton, MaSorry, but you're all wrong. I was at a concert of his in Hartford last week and he prefaced this song by saying: "This is about my former manager. God I hated him. (He ruined a lot of stuff for me) He was the complete opposite of the man I sang about in Downeaster Alexa"
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaAll of these ideas about the meaning are possible.
  • Steve from Fenton, MoI love a lot of Billy Joel's music, but I find this particular song anoying. The two best songs off 52nd Street, in my opinion of course, are Stiletto and Until the Night. Until the Night is sung like the Righteous Brothers, where Billy sings both the high and low parts. It's one of his best songs. Stiletto has great lyrics and a nice melody.
  • Craig from Madison, WiThe lyric "...and the people that you knew at Elaine's": Elaine's is a posh NYC celebrity hang out that had it's heyday in the late 70's when this album was written. This is the restaurant in which Michael Caine introduced Woody Allen to Mia Farrow.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyBilly Joel said this was about himself in his partying days in New York. He wanted to write it in 3rd person, though, and being a male singer, it worked better if it sounded like he was scolding a woman who had to be the "big shot".
  • Mike from Mountlake Terrace, WashingtonThis was the very first album ever released on Compact Disc! Sony? (1982)
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