Ruth Leon recommends… Just The Way You Are – Billy JoelRuth Leon recommends
Just The Way You Are – Billy Joel
Maybe you have to be very old, like me, to appreciate this. Or maybe not. My friend Adele sent it to me and appended the comment that she’s a softie. Well, listening to this, who wouldn’t be?
It’s Billy Joel when very young, before we realised exactly who and what he was, singing one of his early hits, Just The Way You Are, one of the greatest pop songs of all time, everybody’s choice for the first dance at their wedding. Or it was, a long time ago. This recording is from The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1978. And does anyone know who that sensational tenor sax player is?
The old songs are the best and this one still works for this old softie.
Wonderful song! The sax solo was played by the great jazz legend Phil Woods.
The sax player is Richie Cannata.
Don’t know who this tenor player is but he’s copying — virtually note for note — from the original studio recording, which featured the legendary jazz man Phil Woods on alto sax.
That’s Richie Cannata on Tenor…
The Tenor saxophonist may well be Richard Cannata. It is beautiful playing. It is also worth noting that much of the ‘hook’ and the improvisation that we hear in this solo is based upon and/or transcribed from an original solo by the brilliant jazz Alto saxophone player Phil Woods.
At the time, it was quite unusual for a Jazz/Swing interlude to be part of a Pop record. It is generally believed that Producer Phil Ramone encouraged the hiring of Phil Woods for the original single and longer album track version of this song.
People overlook how nasty this “love” song is. It’s sung from the point of view of a man whose “passion” is always “unspoken” (i.e., he never tells his Misses that he loves her) and who “might not seem to care.” (Newsflash: People who don’t “seem” to care usually don’t.) Understandably, the woman keeps experimenting with ways to get him to make him care and say “I love you”–clever conversation, a new hair color, new clothes. But all she gets is “Don’t change,” knowing all the while that she will (aging, menopause) and that if she can’t get him to care or to say “I love you” now she probably never will.
I prefer Frank Sinatra’s version: