Billy Joel – Glass Houses


Piano/Vocal/Guitar Songbook
Format: Softcover, 74 pages
Artist: Billy Joel
Arranger: David Rosenthal


Billy Joel’s keyboardist and Musical Director David Rosenthal has attentively arranged all the tracks from Joel’s iconic 1980 album, combining the piano parts and vocal melodies into playable arrangements with accurate transcriptions of those classic piano parts that are integral to each song.  Includes a foreword by Rosenthal along with great photos of Billy and copies of some of his handwritten lyrics.  Features all ten songs: All for Leyna • C’etait Toi (You Were the One) • Close to the Borderline • Don’t Ask Me Why • I Don’t Want to Be Alone • It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me • Sleeping with the Television On • Sometimes a Fantasy • Through the Long Night • You May Be Right.

Click to read David’s Foreword


Glass Houses was released in 1980 and topped the Billboard charts for six weeks. It was the third album produced by Phil Ramone and featured Billy’s first #1 single (“It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me”) along with three other top 40 hits (“You May Be Right”, “Don’t Ask Me Why” and “Sometimes a Fantasy”). It earned Billy a Grammy Award for “Best Male Rock Vocal Performance” and a Grammy Nomination for “Album of the Year”.

Following the success of 52nd Street and several years of playing big arenas, Billy was feeling the need to write music with a bigger sound. He wanted to write harder edge songs with big guitars that would translate well in the larger venues he now performed in. The Yamaha CP80 Electric Grand became his piano of choice, giving a more aggressive and punchier sound to songs like “All For Leyna”, “Sleeping With the Television On” and “I Don’t Want to Be Alone”.

Having played keyboards in Billy Joel’s band since 1993, I have an inside perspective into his music. Accordingly, Billy asked that I review every note of the sheet music in his entire catalog of songs. As a pianist, he entrusted me with the task of correcting and re-transcribing each piece to ensure that the printed music represents each song exactly as it was written and recorded. This is the latest edition in our series of revised songbooks in the Billy Joel catalog.

The challenge with each folio in Billy’s catalog is to find musical ways to combine his piano parts and vocal melodies into playable piano arrangements. First, the signature piano parts are transcribed and notated exactly as Billy played them. The vocal melodies are then transcribed and incorporated into the piano part in a way that preserves the original character of each song.

The instantly recognizable 8th note piano chords in “All For Leyna” are played in many sections of the song. Although they may sound similar at first listen, the 8th note piano chords in the intro and ending are different from each other and are also different from the way they are played in the choruses. I wrote these sections out rather than using repeats so that Billy’s parts could be accurately notated as they appear in each section. In the verses the piano part is combined with the bass and guitar parts creating a syncopation that supports the vocal melody and can all be played together. The double synth solo at the end of the song is not really possible to play on piano, so for this I created an amalgamation of the two parts (with some compromises) in order to make it playable with one hand and still sound like the record.

On “Don’t Ask Me Why”, the piano plays throughout the song and the vocal melody is easily playable on top of the chords. However the solo section actually has two piano parts. The parts are very similar and are played in different octaves giving the solo a “four-hand” sound. For this section I created a single piano part that represents the basic sound of the two pianos, while the left hand plays the bass line.

The rocker “Close to the Borderline” is dominated by big guitars and doesn’t have any piano on the record. For this one I created a piano part that plays the guitar riffs using heavier sounding voicings with lots of roots, fourths and fifths to replicate the power chord sound of the big guitars. The same type of voicings are written for “Sometimes a Fantasy”, and on this one I wrote out the dual lead guitar / synth part in the bridge and made it playable on piano.

“Through The Long Night” is a beautiful ballad characterized by the acoustic guitar and piano, which I combined into a single piano part that also includes the vocal melody.

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.

Billy and I are pleased to present the revised and now accurate sheet music to the classic album Glass Houses.


David Rosenthal
October 2019

Weight 12 oz

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