Just the Way You Are (Billy Joel song)

"Just the Way You Are" is a song by Billy Joel from his fifth studio album The Stranger (1977). It was released in September 1977 as the album's lead single. It became both Joel's first US Top 10 and UK Top 20 single (reaching #3 and #19 respectively), as well as Joel's first gold single in the US. The song also topped the Billboard Easy Listening Chart for the entire month of January 1978.

"Just the Way You Are"
Side-A label of U.S. vinyl single
Single by Billy Joel
from the album The Stranger
B-side"Get It Right the First Time/Vienna"
ReleasedSeptember 1977
Format7-inch single
GenreSoft rock[1]
Length4:47 (Album version)
3:36 (Single version)
Songwriter(s)Billy Joel
Producer(s)Phil Ramone
Billy Joel singles chronology
"The Entertainer"
"Just the Way You Are"
"Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)"
Alternative release
Dutch vinyl single

"Just the Way You Are" garnered two Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year in 1979.[2]


Joel shared that the melody and chord progression for this song came to him while he was dreaming.[3] In an interview on the Howard Stern Radio Show on November 16, 2010, Joel revealed that the inspiration for writing the name of the song and how it sounds in the chorus was directly taken from the last line in the Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons song "Rag Doll"; which incidentally was also a larger inspiration for Joel's later song, "Uptown Girl".[4] The song, which Joel had written for his first wife (and also his business manager at the time) Elizabeth Weber, was not liked by either Joel or his band, and Joel had originally decided against making the track a part of The Stranger, but at the request of both Linda Ronstadt and Phoebe Snow (both were recording in other studios in the same building at the time), he agreed to put the song on the final mix.[5] However, the album's producer, Phil Ramone, later contradicted Joel's claim, stating in an interview that they could not afford to exclude the song because Joel did not have that much material to choose from for the album.[6] The song also shares some similarities to "I'm Not in Love" by 10cc, due to the keyboard and background vocal tape loops Joel and Ramone used.[7]

After Joel and Weber split in 1982, Joel rarely performed the song live after 1986 until the 2000s, and Joel has publicly stated that he disliked playing the song live in the wake of his divorce from his first wife. He noted that during performances of the song around the time of his first divorce, his drummer Liberty DeVitto would jokingly parody the lyrics in the chorus as "She got the house. She got the car."[8]

When "Just the Way You Are" was released as a single, it was shortened by over a minute. The differences are the removal of the second verse and an earlier fade. A live performance of the song was also used as a music video. On February 18, 1978, the song peaked at #3, and Joel performed a shorter version of the song as the musical guest that day on Saturday Night Live (along with "Only the Good Die Young"). The single version (fading 8 seconds later) was included in the first release of Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II, but the full album version was restored for the remastered release of that compilation.

The saxophone solo was played by Phil Woods, a well-known jazz performer and Grammy award winner. Woods was criticized by some purists in the jazz community for playing on a rock session, but in fact he had already played previously on such sessions both for Steely Dan and for Paul Simon. The performance here on a hit record undoubtedly exposed him to a wider audience and introduced his music to rock fans.[9]

Cover versions

Chart performance

Track listing

7" U.S. and UK single (1977)

  1. "Just the Way You Are" – 3:27
  2. "Get It Right the First Time" – 3:54

See also


  1. Lecaro, Lina (November 19, 2016). "This Monthly Club Is a Non-Ironic Celebration of Rock's Softer Side". LA Weekly.
  2. "Past Winners Search". The Grammys. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  3. Webb, Craig (2016). The Dreams Behind the Music: Learn Creative Dreaming As 100+ Top Artists Reveal Their Breakthrough Inspirations. p. 76.
  4. "Billy Joel Visits The Howard Stern Show 11.16.10 by VideodromeVaultRadio | Videodrome Vault Radio | Free Listening on SoundCloud". Soundcloud.com. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  5. Ray Kelly (2008-07-06). "Billy Joel - The Republican interview". Masslive.com. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  6. The Stranger: 30th Anniversary Edition. "Making of The Stranger Documentary. 2008
  7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUgdOdau5OQ
  8. Rose, Charlie. "Billy Joel Interview." The Charlie Rose Show, 1993.
  9. Gordon Bock, "Phil Woods' Sax Keeps Showing Up." Dallas Morning News, August 6, 1978, p. 8 C.
  10. "The Man - Barry White". Allmusic.com. Retrieved August 4, 2011.
  11. MatsukeNマツケん (2009-04-17), YAMAHA PSS-270 Demo song, retrieved 2018-05-03
  12. "Australian-charts.com – Billy Joel – Just the Way You Are". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  13. "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Archived from the original on 2016-10-13. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  14. "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1978-02-18. Retrieved 2018-01-04.
  15. "Charts.nz – Billy Joel – Just the Way You Are". Top 40 Singles.
  16. ""Just the Way You Are" on the South African Singles Chart". Springbok Radio. July 28, 1978. Retrieved September 25, 2010.
  17. "Billy Joel: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  18. "Billy Joel Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  19. Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 127.
  20. Cash Box Top 100 Singles, February 18, 1978
    • Zimbabwe. Kimberley, C. Zimbabwe: singles chart book. Harare: C. Kimberley, 2000
  21. "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Just the Way You Are". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  22. "Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com. 1978-12-16. Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  23. Joel Whitburn's Bubbling Under the Billboard Hot 100 1959-2004
  24. Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  25. "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  26. "Top Selling Singles of 1978 | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Nztop40.co.nz. 1978-12-31. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  27. "Top 100 Hits of 1978/Top 100 Songs of 1978". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  28. "Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 30, 1978". Archived from the original on September 29, 2018. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
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