Lost and Found: Billy Joel opens the Iron Curtain with 'Leningrad'
What can I say about Billy Joel? The first album (vinyl) I bought was The Stranger and that purchase started a lifelong appreciation of The Piano Man. In the ‘80s alone, Joel collected a staggering 23 Top 40 hits, but even Billy Joel has a few songs that have slipped through the cracks and need to be found again.
Joel’s 1987 trip to Russia influenced several of songs on 1989’s Storm Front album. One of the most touching songs is Leningrad. The song captures the brilliance of how Joel in less than 4 minutes can paint a moving story of a Russian clown named Victor and how two men on opposite sides of the world can overcome demons and country politics to create a bond that breaks down barriers.
Leningrad was just a promotional video in the U.S.; however it was a fairly successful single in Eastern Europe with its highest charting action occurring in Germany where it reached No. 17. My favorite parts of the video are the brief moments that show Billy with then-wife Christie Brinkley and daughter Alexa Ray and a short glimpse of a meeting with Victor.
While no longer making new music, Joel is always a huge draw when he tours and recently his duet of New York State of Mind with a student at Vanderbilt University was a viral smash.