Following his duet with Goo Goo Dolls’ John Rzenik, Billy Joel has released an early recording of New York State of Mind. The version had been recorded live in 1975 during a performance in San Francisco, predating the official release date on his 1976 album, Turnstiles.
Engineer and live sound producer for Joel, Brian Ruggles told Rolling Stone, “We were all living in California in 1974-75. 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.
Joel “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’.”
This early version of this track is set to come within the upcoming boxset, The Vinyl Collection, Vol. 1, arriving November 5th. Also included in this great set is the unreleased live album, Live at the Great American Music Hall – 1975, and the first six LPs from Joel.
In this earlier performance, Mr Long Island is heard making random quips throughout and after singing certain lines. Following, “Been high in the Rockies under the evergreens”, Joel jokes, “That’s where John Denver is, I’ve heard”. The musician decided to take a similar approach on the subsequent studio version after rehearsing the song and performing it live.
Ruggles went on to add that Joel liked the arrangement so much that they “recorded it that way on the album. 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.”