David Rosenthal, Billy’s keyboardist and Music Director, has carefully arranged all the tracks from Joel’s 1983 release, combining the piano parts and vocal melodies into playable arrangements while transcribing those classic piano parts that are integral to each song. Guitar chord frames are also included. This great souvenir collection even includes several pages of photos and Billy Joel’s original hand written lyrics. It features all ten classic songs, including: Careless Talk • Christie Lee • Easy Money • An Innocent Man • Keeping the Faith • Leave a Tender Moment Alone • The Longest Time • Tell Her About It • This Night • Uptown Girl. Also includes a foreword by David Rosenthal
Click to read David’s Foreword
Released in the Summer of 1983, An Innocent Man was Billy’s 8th album on Columbia Records, and his fifth to be produced by Phil Ramone. While Billy’s previous album The Nylon Curtain (1982) was a homage to “Sgt. Pepper” and the Beatles, An Innocent Man celebrates Billy’s pre-Beatles influences and the soul music he loved on AM radio as a kid. Writing and recording in New York City, he immersed himself in the greats of the late 50s and early 60s: Wilson Pickett, James Brown and the Famous Flames, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, The Drifters, and Ben E. King. It was a fun album for him to make, a joyous time in his life, and all this is captured in the spirited songs which comprise this album.
Having played keyboards in Billy Joel’s band since 1993, I have become very familiar with his music. Accordingly, Billy has asked that I review the sheet music to his entire catalog of songs. As I am also a pianist, he entrusted me with the task of correcting and re-transcribing each piece, to ensure that the printed music represent his songs exactly as they were written and recorded.
The challenge with each folio in Billy’s catalogue is to find musical ways to combine his piano parts and vocal melodies into playable piano arrangements. First, the signature piano parts were transcribed and notated exactly as Billy played them. The vocal melodies were then transcribed and incorporated into the piano part in a way that preserves the original character of each song. All of the songs in this collection received the same astute attention to detail. The result is sheet music that is both accurate and enjoyable to play, and remains true to the original performances.
On “Keeping the Faith,” for example, the characteristic horn lines are added in wherever possible when they fall between vocal phrases. For the intro, the funky Wurlitzer electric piano part is combined with the guitar riff and the bass line into a playable piano part. Since the song fades out on the original recording, I added an optional alternate ending which is exactly how we perform it live.
On “Tell Her About It,” the signature horn lines in the intro are combined with the Richard Tee piano part in the right hand, while the bass lines are covered by the left hand. Throughout the song the horn lines are included wherever possible, and of course the bari sax answers are there in the chorus.
The characteristic Jerry Lee Lewis style piano stabs of “Christie Lee” are included whenever they fall in between the vocal phrases, and on “Careless Talk” the rolled piano 8ths and horn hits that answer the vocal lines are added in wherever they’re playable along with the melody.
While the catchiness of Billy’s melodies have made for timeless pop songs, many of his melodies and chord structures are classical in the way they are constructed. An obvious example of how well these two styles fit together is in “This Night”, where he creates the perfect chorus for the song by writing lyrics to the 2nd movement of Beethoven’s “Pathetique Sonata.” It melds perfectly together with a do-wop style verse, proving that strong melodies can transcend any genre.
An Innocent Man is a fantastic collection of finely crafted pop songs. Billy and I are pleased to present the revised and now accurate sheet music to the songs from this classic album.