Not to be confused with the Bruno Mars song of the same title, Billy Joel’s “Just The Way You Are” was a double Grammy Award winner, picking up Record of the Year and Song of the Year in 1979.
It’s also the first Billy Joel song I remember hearing. He’d had some success with “Piano Man” a few years earlier, but that didn’t go near the charts in the UK and I don’t remember hearing it on pop music radio until many years later, after “Piano Man” had reached “oldie” status.
“Just The Way You Are” was the first single released from Billy Joel’s album “The Stranger”, which really launched his career as one of the world’s biggest music acts.
“The Stranger” was also the first album I owned. I got it as a Christmas present in, I guess 1977 or 1978. I was learning the piano at the time and adored Elton John, so my parents tried to broaden my tastes a little with some Billy Joel.
I adored “The Stranger”. I particularly fell in love with “Vienna”, but I pretty much wore out the grooves on the whole album during that year’s Christmas holiday. My parents pretended not to mind.
“Just The Way You Are” is a plea to a partner not to feel the need to change how she is to please him, and for her to leave him to be as he is too.
It’s an intriguing concept. And on the surface sounds obvious, but that rarely seem to be the case.
I’ve never been in a relationship where, once it became serious, I was ever good enough for my partner. I’ve never understood this — if you don’t really like the person you took up with, wouldn’t it have been easier all round for you to have looked for someone who was a better match for the partner you really wanted instead?
If Mr Occam had brought his razor to that problem, I’m sure he’d have said this was by no means the fastest and smoothest path to end up with the man of your dreams.
Yet it seems remarkably common. Maybe it’s a similar motivation to those people who buy old classic cars and spend the next decade in the garage every weekend lovingly restoring an old wreck, rather than buying the car you really wanted in the first place. Perhaps some people just like a project to work on.