Piano Man was the hit that sparked [lastfm]Billy Joel[/lastfm]‘s land and impressive career. It was the first single he ever released, it hit number 25 on the Billboard charts, paving the way for later Joel songs to make it all the way up to number one.
The song’s original runtime was 5:38, and Joel’s record company thought it was too long to gain popularity as a single. As a result, verses were cut and the length was shortened. Joel made reference to this in a later song, The Entertainer, with the line, “It was a beautiful song, but it ran too long, so they cut it down to 3:05.”