It's nine o'clock on a Saturday
The regular crowd shuffles in
There's an old man sittin' next to me
Makin' love to his tonic and gin
He says, "Son, can you play me a memory?
I'm not really sure how it goes
But it's sad and it's sweet and I knew it complete
When I wore a younger man's clothes"

La, la-la, di-dee-da
La-la, di-dee-da, da-dum

Sing us a song, you're the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well, we're all in the mood for a melody
And you've got us feelin' alright

Now John at the bar is a friend of mine
He gets me my drinks for free
And he's quick with a joke or to light up your smoke
But there's some place that he'd rather be
He says, "Bill, I believe this is killing me"
As the smile ran away from his face
"Well, I'm sure that I could be a movie star
If I could get out of this place"

Oh, la, la-la, di-dee-da
La-la, di-dee-da, da-dum

Now Paul is a real estate novelist
Who never had time for a wife
And he's talkin' with Davy, who's still in the Navy
And probably will be for life
And the waitress is practicing politics
As the businessmen slowly get stoned
Yes, they're sharing a drink they call loneliness
But it's better than drinkin' alone

Sing us a song, you're the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well, we're all in the mood for a melody
And you've got us feelin' alright

It's a pretty good crowd for a Saturday
And the manager gives me a smile
'Cause he knows that it's me they've been comin' to see
To forget about life for a while
And the piano, it sounds like a carnival
And the microphone smells like a beer
And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar
And say, "Man, what are you doin' here?"

Oh, la, la-la, di-dee-da
La-la, di-dee-da, da-dum

Sing us a song, you're the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well, we're all in the mood for a melody
And you've got us feelin' alright

Lyrics submitted by kevin

Piano Man Lyrics as written by Billy Joel

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Piano Man song meanings
Add Your Thoughts


sort form View by:
  • +16
    General Commentmy friend was in a bar one night, bar was practically empty, and some guy came in and started playing "Piano Man" on the piano. when he went over to compliment the guy on his playing, he realized it was actually Billy Joel himself!
    emmychloeon May 30, 2002   Link
  • +12
    General CommentPiano Man has such a simple meaning/story but yet seems to be misinterprated by so many people. Piano Man is indeed about a bar piano player and what he sees at the bar he works at. He seems to have a good repour with all the customers they all seem to like and respect him. The first clue that tells you what the song is about is when he talks to the old man sitting next to him. The man is making love to his tonic and gin he is presumably drunk and rambling on about his life. John at the bar is a bartender that seems to be stuck and wants to apparently be a movie star. The waitress is praticing politics while the buisness man slowly gets more and more drunk. Everyone at the bar has a problem and while they are there the Piano Man makes them "forget about life for a while." He does this for these people and the customers think he is such a good piano player. The Piano Man knows that he is a respectable player but is no different from anyother bar piano player. It's just that these people have problems for one and are drunk for two. He is so great because of these people needing an outlet he knows this and accepts this. I love this song and am also a bar piano player. Playing at a bar one night I began to play this song when it all hit me what it was about. I had never really thought about it in that much depth before but as I played it all unfolded infront of me. The really amazing thing about the song is that anyone who has worked in a bar/restaurant can relate to the people in the story, and even if you have never worked in this enviornment the song paints the picture so beautifully that you can see exactly what the Piano Man feels and sees.
    BrycePaason February 20, 2009   Link
  • +10
    General Commenti think that this is the best song of all time, hands down
    connieon March 11, 2002   Link
  • +4
    General CommentFound this VERY funny take on the origin of this song. So very funny...



    - - - -

    - - - -

    Hi, Billy,

    It's hard to find time to talk at the club since I'm busy managing the place and you're at the piano. And we need to talk. I've occasionally given you a nervous smile hoping it would initiate a conversation, but that hasn't worked out. I'm hoping that by writing my thoughts down, you'll have a chance to read this when you're at home or something.

    I think you should sing songs. Actual songs. Because you don't sing any at all right now. You've been playing at my club for three months, and though you're a fine musician and an acceptable vocalist, these things you perform are just not songs in the traditional sense. They're streams of observations about what the people in the club are doing, punctuated by the occasional "la la la, de de da da" when it's clear you've run out of things to say. It's just a continuous stream of musical small talk lasting up to five hours. How about "Stormy Weather" or "Yesterday" or something? Hell, "Feelings." Anything. Do you need sheet music? I have some at home.

    Frankly, this has been bothering me since you started, but I figured since we get a regular crowd shuffling in on Saturdays when you play, why rock the boat? But this past Saturday I couldn't help notice that there was a lot of tension in the room. As you know, it was actually a pretty good crowd that night, customers who wanted to forget about life for a while by having some drinks and hearing some music. John the bartender provided the booze, so they looked to you for the songs. But instead they just heard their own sad lives echoed back to them. That nice old man wanted to hear something from his childhood but couldn't remember the tune all the way. It would have been great if you had at least guessed at one before loudly rephrasing his confusion in rhyming verse before firing off more "la la la, de de da da" lines. That old man—a regular customer, by the way—was so humiliated that he ended up performing a sexual act on his cocktail. Of course, I don't need to tell you that. You put that in the song, too. You had to be a big shot, didn't you?

    Billy, that kind of thing is why people kept yelling at you all night. "Sing us a song, piano man! Sing us a song tonight!" they shouted. But instead of doing so, you simply shouted their words back to them and added a line about how you were making them feel all right. Which you weren't. You were making them mad. People aren't just in the mood for a melody, they're in the mood for a legitimate composition.

    They were annoyed, too, because the observations were cruel. Davy often discusses his plans for when he gets out of the Navy (it's a steady paycheck but the rhyming-name thing annoys the hell out of him), but to hear you speculate that he would be there for life was a crushing blow. Again, why the public humiliation? And our businessmen were irate about your description of them getting "stoned." Do you not know the difference between drunk and stoned? Hint: One is acceptable businessman behavior, the other's illegal. But even if you were to say they were getting drunk, that still would not be OK. As a matter of fact, just don't sing about the businessmen. They're nice guys and good tippers. I guess I do owe you some thanks, however, for singing about the drink called Loneliness. That's a terrible name for a drink. I'm renaming it Banana Mambo. More festive.

    As to our waitress's efforts to get a graduate degree in political science or Paul's attempt at pioneering the literary genre of real-estate fiction, Jesus, Billy, leave them alone.

    Looking back on that Saturday night, I'm actually surprised that with all your observational nonsong music, you didn't notice the acrimony you were creating. The smile faded from John the bartender's face, yes, but he wasn't giving you free drinks, he was throwing empty beer bottles at you. He wasn't playing jokes or lighting your smokes, either, he was literally trying to set you on fire. The only thing you got right was having him say, "Bill, I believe this is killing me." It was killing all of us. But still you would not sing songs. I got so desperate I poured a beer on your microphone and shoved huge wads of bread in your tip jar, thinking it would get your attention. "Man, what are you doing here?!" I shouted. But instead of stopping, you just sang it all back to me. I mean, I'm sorry I lost my cool and all, but Jesus, what is your problem, Billy?

    So for next week: Please sing some actual songs. That's what you were hired to do. You're the fucking piano man.


    Anthony Cacciatore
    Sir_Larrikinon July 09, 2007   Link
  • +3
    General Commentdoes anyone know what this song is really about? at the beginning of his carreer Billy Joel got screwed over by a record label on an awful contract and couldn't release any of his songs and he couldn't work in any large music business because of the contract so until it expired he had to work at a small bar. this song is his experiences at the bar.
    joeyfox1on August 31, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentOne of the best impromptu sing-a-long songs of all times. You can play this on the jukebox all over this country, and chances are there will be many people singin along.
    rigelon September 02, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis is a classic and will always be because it truly reflects life. Walk into any bar and look around and you'll see the people dipicted here. The song is about more than the piano man. The piano man recognizes he is the same as everyone else in this bar - seeking fulfillment from a lonely life.
    musicisanemotionon June 11, 2010   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningThe ultimate slow-it-down, grab a friend, and sway back and forth song. But the tune is a deep metaphor for the fundamental disappointments of life in individuals young and old, public and private sector, and, even, “successful” and “unsuccessful”. It doesn’t matter if you are a Navy lifer, a bartender, or a successful businessman; all people live with disappointments, regrets, and failures. However, the portrait painted by the lyricist shows how all of these flawed, melancholy people come together for one night to put all of their troubles aside and celebrate life with one another. The piano player serves as the focal point of the community’s diversion. In many ways, the song is summed up by the line, ‘He knows that it’s me that they’re coming to see to forget about life for a while’. It ultimately works as a microcosm of any community in which a flawed individual finds a sense of oneness and an escape from an often depressing existence.
    BillyEltonNeilon October 27, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commentlove it love it love it, i think its about how you can be amazingly talented at something, but still not get anywhere cos that's how the world works, still makes me wanna cry, reminds me of the end of highschool
    Bulkyoneon July 30, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is actually based on real events that happened while billy joel was playing at small piano bars or bars in general while he was getting screwed over with a contract, just like joeyfox1 send. THe people in the song real and everythign about them real and the waitress who is practicing politics is his first ex wife.
    eaglesfan81on April 02, 2003   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top