If you’ve stayed until the last song of school dances or was a part of a play or musical here at Eastern, you probably know that Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” is played at every play, musical, and dance. Why? When did one of Billy Joel’s hits become the “thing” that brings Eastern students together?
This was Joel’s first signature hit, debuting on the Piano Man album in November 1973. (A link to the song is featured at the bottom of the page.) Joel performs the song at every concert, and most people know every word, from the “regular crowd shuffling in to the piano sounding like a carnival.” The song was inspired by Joel’s experiences playing at The Executive Room which is a piano bar in Los Angeles. The characters in the song are based on real people Joel encountered while working at The Executive Room. Joel played under the name Bill Martin, which explains why the patrons in the song call him Bill.
With I Hate Shakespeare, our fall play, preparing for its debut this weekend, the seniors in the show anticipate singing “Piano Man.” The song has become a staple to honor graduating seniors and is sung for every show privately in the orchestra room before the curtain opens. The seniors stand on chairs in a circle with their fellow cast and crew members, belting out the lyrics.
The speculation of the origin of this tradition is that Chuck Glover, FHE’s first theatre teacher, allegedly, started this tradition in 2004 by singing it with the kids before a show. Mrs. Pruski, our current theatre teacher, stated, “It was a tradition that the kids kept passing down to each other.” Whether the origin is true or not, the tradition remains a strong and significant part of Eastern.