"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.