Billy Joel (featuring Phil Woods): Just The Way You Are

Track

Just The Way You Are

Artist

Billy Joel (vocals, acoustic piano, electric keyboards, synthesizers)

CD

Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II (Columbia)

Buy Track

Musicians:

Billy Joel (vocals, acoustic piano, electric keyboards, synthesizers), Phil Woods (alto sax),

Richie Cannata (tenor & soprano saxes, clarinet, flute, organ), Steve Khan (guitars), Hiram Bullock (electric guitar), Hugh McCracken, Steve Burgh (acoustic guitars), Doug Stegmeyer (bass), Liberty Devitto (drums), Ralph McDonald (percussion)

.

Composed by Billy Joel

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Recorded: probably 1977

Albumcoverbillyjoelgreatesthits-volumei-volumeii

Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

Billy Joel might have created the consummate piano lounge song here if he hadn't already done so four years earlier with "Piano Man." This ditty alone must have paid for a couple of houses in the Hamptons plus a few divorce settlements, as it still gets played every day at wedding receptions, karaoke bars and oldies radio stations. For a song that was schmaltzy and mushy to begin with (but eminently hummable and catchy), producer Phil Ramone pulled out all the stops to make it even more so, with a warm electric piano, heavily reverbed sound, infinitely layered choral backing vocals and, of course, a sultry saxophone.

At least Ramone chose wisely when it came to who would play that most romantic of instruments. Alto giant Phil Woods, having made his mark in bop decades earlier, had already proved remarkably adaptable to pop on Steely Dan's "Doctor Wu." Now he outdid himself. His sweet, sympathetic lines fit Billy Joel's pop standard so perfectly, they become essential to it. Woods delivered arguably the most recognizable sax solo in all of adult contemporary music.

Despite its mawkish tendencies, "Just The Way You Are" does hit the bull's-eye on soft rock, even if that might be a dubious dartboard for some. But Woods's sax work is an unequivocal delight.

Reviewer: S. Victor Aaron

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  • 1 Alec Martin // Jan 20, 2009 at 06:38 AM
    I hope you aren't getting paid for this type of tripe. Joel's music is about his music- not his money or homes or wives- or ex-wives. Get a job.
  • 2 Terry Moran // Jan 20, 2009 at 02:59 PM
    Mawkish? Schmaltzy? 'Just The Way You Are' is a classic song written with a beautiful melody, sophisticated chords and heartfelt lyrics. It's a standard that has lasted through time, and will be a part of the great American songbook for ages to come. Why do you think songs like this resonate with people for generations? I'll tell you why - because they're GOOD. People will always respond to the good stuff - no matter what the fashion of the times dictate. Soft rock- my ass It's not attempting to be rock at all rock at all. It's just music.
  • 3 Bill // Jan 20, 2009 at 06:54 PM
    S. Victor Aaron - Nothing is better than Phil Woods solo on Dr Wu!