“Piano Man” is a song written and performed by American singer-songwriter Billy Joel. His first single in North America, it was included on Joel’s 1973 album of the same name and later released as a single on November 2, 1973.
The song is sung from Joel’s point-of-view as a piano player at a bar, reminiscing about his experiences there and the people he encountered. “Piano Man” is based on Joel’s real-life experiences as a lounge musician in Los Angeles from 1972–73, which he had decided to pursue in an effort to escape his contracted New York City-based record company at the time, Family Productions, following the poor commercial performance of the album Cold Spring Harbor.
Joel describes various characters, including a bartender named John and a “real-estate novelist” named Paul, all based on real-life individuals.