Billy Joel

New York State Of Mind

Song Review by

"New York State of Mind" is the centerpiece track of Billy Joel's final pre-stardom album, 1976's Turnstiles. As the title, cover photo (shot in the New York City subway system), and first track on the album (the California kiss-off "Say Goodbye to Hollywood") all indicate, New York native Joel couldn't have been happier about returning home at this point in his life, and this dramatic, lengthy ballad has gone on to become one of the defining tracks of his career. A lifelong fan of Frank Sinatra (who never did record this song, although he should have) and Tony Bennett (who did, although Mel Tormé did it better), Joel is clearly thinking about his heroes here, both in his loose phrasing, full of pregnant pauses and nuanced rushes of lines, and in the dramatic arrangement for his band, a full orchestra, and saxophonist Richie Cannata, whose lengthy solo is the song's musical heart. Similarly, the lyrics are among Joel's finest, worthy of some of the best pre-rock composers of pop standards in their juxtaposition of concrete real-world details and more impressionistic washes of emotion. Although the songs that finally made his commercial name were considerably different and more overtly rock-oriented, "New York State of Mind" shows that Billy Joel was a talent on the verge of something big.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Turnstiles 1976 Columbia 6:05
Greatest Hits, Vols. 1-2 (1973-1985) 1985 Columbia 6:05
Souvenir: The Ultimate Collection 1989 CBS Records 6:16
The Complete Hits Collection 1973-1997 1997 Columbia / Sony Music Distribution 6:05
No Image 2000 Columbia 7:00
The Ultimate Collection 2001 Columbia 6:03
The Essential Billy Joel 2001 Legacy / Sony Music Distribution 6:05
America: A Tribute to Heroes 2001
Various Artists
Interscope 6:01
No Image 2004
Original TV Soundtrack
Sony Music Distribution 6:03
No Image 2004 Sony Music Distribution 6:03
My Lives 2005 Columbia 6:01
The Hits 2010 Columbia / Legacy / Sony Music Entertainment 6:04