Cold Spring Harbor

Billy Joel

Columbia, 1971



Billy Joel portrayed himself as a premier piano player in his very early years. His 1972 debut album Cold Spring Harbor showcases his expert piano playing, as well as introducing a kind of music (classical) that he would return to 25 years later. It just didn't seem at the time that his kind of piano-playing would relate to classical, it reminded us more of the lone player in a smoke-filled barroom, collecting tips for playing some beautiful sounding tunes.

For example, "She's Got A Way" is a very touching song, and features Joel’s vocals with only his piano. It is probably the only song on this album that most Billy Joel fans will remember right away. "You Can Make Me Free" starts out with just vocals and piano, then kicks in with the band. However, his vocals seem to struggle with some of the high notes here. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

"Everybody Loves You Now" features a ragtime piano style. "Why Judy Why" is another touching ballad, featuring acoustic guitar and vocals. "Falling Of The Rain" returns to the piano, with a style that’s closer to fast-tempoed classical than ragtime.

"Turn Around" feels like early Elton John – one of Joel’s models as he started out. "You Look So Good To Me" has a nice, bouncy pop beat, while "Tomorrow Is Today" is another ballad in the style of "She's Got A Way" and "Why Judy Why."

"Nocturne" is a very beautiful classical music instrumental; it’s easy to see why there aren't any vocals in this song. It doesn't need any.  Interestingly, 25 years later, Billy Joel would return to this particular style of music with his Fantasies And Delusions album. And in looking at the liner notes, all of the songs on this album were written solely by Billy Joel.

The album closes with "Got To Begin Again", another ballads in the style of "She's Got A Way."  The touching ballads are the ones that stand out the most on Cold Spring Harbor, as it focuses a promising young star (at that time) writing love songs for the piano.

Billy Joel and his contemporary Elton John had one thing in common when they first started out in their early years: they both wrote (in EJ's case, co-wrote) beautiful ballads that would spark anyone’s interest in this kind of music. And they both went on to write songs in the pop/rock style, while continuing to also write ballads.

Billy Joel's better-known second album Piano Man comes to mind when listening to Cold Spring Harbor; likewise the early works of Elton John. If this kind of music inspires and entertains you, then Cold Spring Harbor is worth giving some airplay.

Rating: B

User Rating: A


I still remember hearing this album for the first time. I put it on and I couldn't move. I was frozen in time listening to what could possibly be the greatest album ever created. Everyone I've ever showed this album to has agreed with me. If you don't like Billy Joel, get this album and you will be converted.

© 2007 Eric E5S16 and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia, and is used for informational purposes only.