Billy Joel Live at Nassau Coliseum on July 25, 1980.

Billy Joel Live at Nassau Coliseum on July 25, 1980. Credit: Kevin Mazur

Billy Joel song of the day: "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me" (from 1980's "Glass Houses")

How about a pair of pink sidewinders and a bright orange pair of pants?

Nah. Billy Joel saw the cultural upheaval that was brewing in England with punk and new wave music in the late '70s and early '80s and focused on the parts he knew would last. It wasn't the fashion. It was the music.

Joel used the musical identifiers of new wave in the song, while still declaring that it wasn't all that different. (He also tossed a shout-out to the Miracle Mile in Manhasset.) The combination worked, as the song reached No. 1 in 1980, and became emblematic of the rebelliousness Joel wanted to showcase on the "Glass Houses" album, arguably the hardest-rocking album of his career.

"It's Still Rock and Roll to Me" remains an important part of Joel's set, long after all the chatter about new wave fashion has faded.


"I was living in Cove Neck at the time and I was on my way into the studio in the city, and I didn't have a song finished to do that day, so I started a song the night before and I was finishing it in the car. I was just throwing lyrics out to the guys in the band in the car. 'What about this? What about that?' to see if it would pass that test. ... The Miracle Mile was mentioned because I think we were going past the Miracle Mile when I wrote that. I think that's how it came out. I don't think it was in my head before that. I was just kind of pulling things out of the trip."

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