Thank Goodness Then’s Not Now – #TGTNN – Billy Joel’s “Piano Man”
Most producers, engineers, and listeners love the golden age of rock n roll, from the 60’s through the 80’s, that’s when the greatest artists of our time were making the recordings we all know and love.
But ironically as much as we look up to those recordings, most producers these days don’t judge music by the same standard anymore. So as a satirical jab at today’s modern producing and engineering, I present to you my new blog series “Thank Goodness Then’s Not Now.”
I take a listen to all-time classic recordings, and analyze them as if they were demos that crossed my desk – and make notes about the various problems that would prevent them from POSSIBLY being even considered by radio, no less HITS!
Problem is… they were ALL massive smashes. Point being… if it’s got the heart, the soul, and the fire… a lot can be forgiven.
Let’s start with one of the most beloved songs by one of my all-time favorite artists, ladies and gentlemen, I give you… My production notes on Billy Joel’s “Piano Man.” Follow along, see if you agree – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaUyJyPekJE
Off the top – Piano is out of tune. Seriously? Replay the whole thing on a tuned piano.
First word is flat. C’mon. Pitch it up.
Acoustic jumps out at :46, have it up from the top or keep it ducked. Thin sounding, thicken up.
:48 – not digging the weird upbeat snare thing. Just loop the verse drums for that section.
:59 – mandolin way off. Line it up. Do we really need mandolin? We’re trying to make a hit here.
1:17 – turn down the damn acoustic, and line it up.
1:40- tune “feeling”
1:43 – Instrumental before V2 – grid it up, too loose, acoustic ahead. Who played that??
1:57 – what the hell is the drummer doing? Just copy/paste drums from verse 1.
2:19 – Mando comes in late, too quiet. Line it up. Again… do we need it?
2:43 – Is the acoustic playing on this verse or not?? Just copy/paste another verse. Or ditch it. I’m starting to hate acoustic guitar.
3:17 – stoned, alone, loneliness – please tell him not to pronounce the words like he’s british or something. C’mon, he’s from Long Island…
3:25 – ummm did the drummer just like… stop playing during the solo?? Copy/paste from somewhere… Anywhere. Except the verse at 1:57, definitely not from there.
The whole band rushes way ahead at 4:00 especially the piano
4:05 – Acoustic is LOUD and LATE. Billy’s a piano guy, we don’t need guitar.
Hire a harmonica player, you can tell he’s playing and singing in the same take, and the part isn’t good enough.
Acoustic is driving me nuts. Just ditch it. Make sure the guitarist never works in this town again.
4:29 – This is kick ass, kudos everyone for not messing up this section.
5:17 – just when you thought the harmonica couldn’t get flatter…
Very end – line up on the grid, they’re all very loose with each other. And where’s the acoustic?? Did he quit?? Did I fire him mid-take…. I wish…
We probably need to hire a Pro Tools guy to straighten this whole mess out. Keep most of the accordion if you can, he was good, bass good but will need to cut it up and line up with drums.