Billy Joel has released an early version of his iconic song “New York State of Mind,” recorded live during a 1975 San Francisco performance.
This recording predates the official release of “New York State of Mind,” which would not occur until it appeared on Joel’s 1976 album, Turnstiles.
You can hear the song down below.
“We were all living in California in 1974-75,” Brian Ruggles, who was then Joel’s engineer and live sound producer, told Rolling Stone. “Billy was in Malibu and I was living in Hollywood. He’d been in California for a few years and was really homesick for New York. He wanted to get back there. His roots are in New York and he missed it a lot.
“He came up with the idea for the song as he rode — on the Hudson River Line, actually — to his house in Highland Falls, New York,” Ruggles added. “He wrote the song down when he got home. This was months before we recorded Turnstiles.”
The live version will appear on Joel’s forthcoming box The Vinyl Collection, Vol. 1. The set arrives on Nov. 5 and includes an unreleased live album, Live at the Great American Music Hall – 1975, in addition to his first six LPs.
Joel can be heard making a few spontaneous quips while performing “New York State of Mind.” “That’s where John Denver is, I’ve heard,” he jokes after singing the line “Been high in the Rockies under the evergreens.” After rehearsing the song and performing it live, Joel decided to take a similar approach on the subsequent studio version.
“Billy liked the arrangement, so they recorded it that way on the album,” Ruggles said. “I remember that the recording truck was owned by the drummer of Creedence Clearwater Revival, and it was parked outside the Great American Music Hall. It was old-school recording, but we were able to put together a pretty good recording for this special release. It stands up really well after almost 46 years or so.”
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