"Piano Man" was Billy Joel's first major hit and is considered Joel's signature song. The verses of the song are sung from the point of view of a bar piano player who focuses mainly on everyone else at the bar: John the bartender, the waitress, and bar regulars like Paul and Davy. Most of these characters have unfulfilled dreams, and the pianist's job, it seems, is to help them "forget about life for a while". The chorus, in bar-room sing-along style, comes from the bar patrons themselves, who plead, "Sing us a song. .

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