Billy Joel and Producer Phil Ramone Captured Collaborative Magic on The Stranger

Season 19 | Episode 2
20m | Dec 29, 2022

The Stranger wasn't only Billy Joel’s critical breakthrough, but it was the start of a decade-long creative partnership with producer Phil Ramone. Together, the two created some of the most lasting songs in music, and it all began with those first sessions in the summer of 1977.

Joel had a specific vision for what would be his fifth studio album, and that meant finding the right person to work the boards. It wasn't until Ramone -- known then for hits like "It's My Party" in the '60s and working with Paul Simon in the '70s -- expressed his enthusiasm for working with Joel's touring band that the Piano Man knew he'd found his producer.

Together, they captured the energy of a Billy Joel concert on tape, with Joel's band pounding away live in studio (leading to utterly in-the-room sound leakage). Add in Ramone's innovative recording techniques, and they were able to fully realize the sound that had always been in Joel's head. It was a collaborative environment that allowed the best of everyone to come out and led to one of the best albums in the history of music.

Presented by Consequence Podcast Network and Sony Legacy, Episode 2 of The Opus: The Stranger explores how working with Ramone allowed Joel to ascend to a new level of legend. In addition to archival interviews from the two icons, host Adam Unze speaks with Ben Folds, Joel's drummer Liberty DeVito, Arkells' Max Kerman, Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness, and Rozzie.

Keep up with the rest of Season 19 by liking, reviewing, and subscribing to The Opus wherever you get your podcasts. You can also stream or download The Stranger here, and check out the recently released Live at Yankee Stadium, capturing Joel’s 1990 two-night stand at famed stadium.

Fans of The Opus can show their love with an official Opus hoodie or T-Shirt, available now at the Consequence Shop. Snag tickets to Joel's upcoming concerts, including a 2023 co-headlining tour with Stevie Nicks, here.

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