By the summer of 1977, Billy Joel was hanging on to his Columbia Records contract by a tiny thread…. As Joel saw it, a big part of the problem was that his albums never came close to matching the power of his live show. Columbia kept teaming him with studio bands and producers that failed to truly understand his music. But by 1977, Joel had an incredible new batch of songs in his back pocket and a new producer named Phil Ramone eager to work with him and his road band.
Working together they crafted an album that would produce four huge hit singles, sell millions of copies and move Billy Joel into basketball arenas for the rest of his career. They called it The Stranger, and it hit shelves on September 29th, 1977. In honor of its 40th anniversary, read Rolling Stone’s track-by-track guide to the album’s nine songs.