What are your favorite songs featuring piano?
March 5, 2008 11:23 AM   Subscribe

What are your favorite songs featuring piano?

I have seen this question, but mine is a little more broad. I'm looking to put together a few CDs full of music that features piano, (but isn't classical or exclusively instrumental music.) For example, that previous thread suggested Ben Folds, and Rufus Wainwright. I also really love Regina Spektor. Genre isn't really an issue, but I tend to prefer indie rock-ish stuff, and classic rock.
posted by nuclear_soup to Media & Arts (79 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Look to Billy Joel and Elton John for classic rock featuring piano.
posted by cerebus19 at 11:26 AM on March 5, 2008

The Perishers
David Gray
Billy Joel
posted by jazzman at 11:27 AM on March 5, 2008

Fiona Apple
posted by pieoverdone at 11:28 AM on March 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

I like the sound of those stand up pianos that you see in saloons in western movies. There is a lot of that playing in Willie Nelson's album Milk Cow Blues. Not just Willie singing accompanied by one of those pianos, but it is there in the background.
posted by ND¢ at 11:31 AM on March 5, 2008

Seconding Fiona Apple, and you already know about Ben Folds. Martha My Dear, by the Beatles, is quite nice. Also try Tori Amos. She's very hit or miss, but some of her good stuff is very good.

Ideas from other genres:
Otis Spann, for blues
Scott Joplin, for ragtime

Also check out the artists on listed at wikipedia under piano rock.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 11:39 AM on March 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

You can't go far wrong with any of that late-'80s Cecil Taylor FMP stuff.
posted by box at 11:39 AM on March 5, 2008

Winter - Tori Amos. Or if you just wanted nothing but Piano, try Leather by Tori. This Woman's Work by Kate Bush is also in the same area you're looking for. If you can find a good piano version of Hungarian Rhapsody by Franz Liszt, I think you'd dig it. That's classical, but it was found in Looney Tunes, so... y'know, it's OK.

I'm a piano fan myself. I need to cut myself off before I don't get any work done today.
posted by indiebass at 11:40 AM on March 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Almost anything on Drukqs.
posted by Nelson at 11:41 AM on March 5, 2008

The greatest pop song ever written, "Life on Mars."
posted by saladin at 11:45 AM on March 5, 2008

If you like Regina Spektor and etc., it's not that far over to jazz & blues. Ella Fitzgerald and friends! Louis Armstrong has an incredible voice. E.g. (I hope that was the right thing... posting from the office)
posted by prefpara at 11:46 AM on March 5, 2008

You Had Time by Ani DiFranco.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 11:46 AM on March 5, 2008

River by Joni Mitchell

Werewolves of London. Ha. Really. Lots of guitar and drums, but the piano is there.
posted by LoriFLA at 11:48 AM on March 5, 2008

Kate Bush - first two albums especially. After that, she's almost exclusively organ but there are some gems later. Or what indiebass said.
posted by elendil71 at 11:48 AM on March 5, 2008


"A Man Needs A Maid" by Neil Young
"Pyramid Song" by Radiohead
"South" by Three Mile Pilot
posted by saladin at 11:49 AM on March 5, 2008

Anything by GrooveLily

But check out

Looking Forward To Looking Back
Sitting On The Fence
No Room In Your Bag
Open Letter To Madonna
Live Through This

posted by FlyByDay at 11:51 AM on March 5, 2008

Joe Jackson's The Invisible Man.
posted by phatkitten at 11:51 AM on March 5, 2008

Mates of State - Husband and wife pair. He plays the drums, she plays piano. Their song "Punchlines" off of Bring it Back is one of my favorites of all time.

Also, there's a host of older Tom Waits songs that heavily feature piano. Your taste may vary, though.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:52 AM on March 5, 2008

The song titled "Saturday Sun" by Nick Drake off his Five Leaves Left cd is very fine. I love the piano in it.
posted by mamaraks at 11:53 AM on March 5, 2008

Don't Stop Believing - Journey
posted by asuprenant at 11:54 AM on March 5, 2008

OH! And, Brad Mehldau plays Radiohead songs beautifully.
posted by prefpara at 11:54 AM on March 5, 2008

• Fiona Apple
• Ben Folds Five
• Billy Joel
• Jon Brion
• Elliott Smith (specifically Son of Sam, Everything Means Nothing to Me, In the Lost and Found, Color Bars - all from Smith's album Figure 8 which, incidentally, jon brion produced. brion also produced Fiona Apple's When the Pawn... and what I believe to be the better [unreleased] incarnation of her latest album Extraordinary Machine. I just really, really enjoy his sound.)
• Tori Amos
• Radiohead (Pyramid Song, Sail to the Moon, We Suck Young Blood [Your Time is Up],

Also, does it have to be a piano as such, or are you interested in other keyboards, too? If the latter is the case:
• Hall & Oates (Rich Girl, Kiss is on My List, Private Eyes

posted by numinous at 11:55 AM on March 5, 2008

If you're looking for particular songs that feature piano for piano's sake, rather than artists in general, two songs come to mind (by previously suggested artists)

Billy Joel - Prelude: Angry Young Man
Ben Folds Five - One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces

Really, most of either artist's catalog would suffice, but these stuck out to me as being particularly piano-heavy/focused.

But then, Joel's Piano Man obviously fits the bill to, in this regard.

For extra fun, try singing along to the intro to Angry Young Man!

DIDaliddleliddleDIDaliddleliddleDIDaliddleDIDaliddleliddleDIDaliddleliddle etc.
posted by SpiffyRob at 11:57 AM on March 5, 2008

Three Amorphis songs:

Black Winter Day
Moon and Sun Pt. II
posted by ignignokt at 11:58 AM on March 5, 2008

"After the Gold Rush" - Neil Young
"Squirming Coil" - Phish
"Stepping Out" - Joe Jackson
"Madman Across the Water" - Elton John
"Lick my Love Pump" - Spinal Tap
"Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys" - Traffic
posted by Challahtronix at 12:01 PM on March 5, 2008

Some of Sufjan Stevens' songs -- "Flint [...]" from the Michigan album, "Concerning the UFO Sighting [...]" from Illinois.

A few of his other songs feature piano among other instruments, such as "Come On! Feel the Illinoise!" and "All Good Naysayers [...]".
posted by spiderskull at 12:03 PM on March 5, 2008

Some more Elton John, of course: Rocket Man.
posted by spiderskull at 12:04 PM on March 5, 2008

Also, although mostly a guitar solo, there's some really wonderful piano behind David Bowie's 1973 performance of Jacques Brel's My Death.
posted by elendil71 at 12:08 PM on March 5, 2008

This Never Happened Before - Paul McCartney
posted by lain at 12:09 PM on March 5, 2008

Coldplay's Chris Martin plays piano as the lead instrument on "Clocks" and "The Scientist" among other tracks.
posted by nicwolff at 12:11 PM on March 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

R.E.M.'s "Nightswimming" and their cover of Floyd Cramer's "Last Date"
posted by kirkaracha at 12:11 PM on March 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

The two greatest (80s) pop-rock piano solos [You sure you have enough qualifiers there benzo8? Ed.]

Two Low For Zero by Elton John
The Way It Is by Bruce Hornsby and the Range
posted by benzo8 at 12:11 PM on March 5, 2008

Radiohead's "Karma Police" is a personal favorite

Wilco & Billy Bragg's song "Christ for President" has a great honky-tonk western saloon piano solo in the middle
posted by dismas at 12:16 PM on March 5, 2008

Wu-Tang Clan - C.R.E.A.M.
posted by moift at 12:26 PM on March 5, 2008

You may not care for it, but it's not your typical piano tune: "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" by Public Enemy. Based on a kick-ass piano sample.

I'm Just sayin'!
posted by BigLankyBastard at 12:26 PM on March 5, 2008

Aladdin Sane by David Bowie has some excellent and weird piano in the song as well as intro/outro sections. And it's an amazing piece of pop to boot.

Hey Bulldog by the Beatles also comes to mind.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:31 PM on March 5, 2008

Mesmerise, by Chapterhouse.
posted by pompomtom at 12:33 PM on March 5, 2008

Nellie McKay's first (and best) album, Get Away From Me has a lot of piano songs. Not to be missed: "Won't You Please Be Nice", "Inner Peace", "Suitcase Song", "Manhattan Avenue".

Fiona Apple's When the Pawn... opens with "On the Bound", which features the crankiest, heaviest piano backdrop you could ever hope for.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 12:35 PM on March 5, 2008

Though not indie-rockish, check out Randy Newman. It's the acerbic wit that keeps me listening. But there's also true moments of beauty in his music as well. Dixie Flyer for example.
posted by quadog at 12:35 PM on March 5, 2008

posted by fire&wings at 12:46 PM on March 5, 2008

Anything by Bowie that has Mike Garson backing him up on piano. Garson has been playing with Bowie for decades.

A couple of more recent Bowie tracks that haven't been mentioned are "The Hearts Filthy Lesson", and "Bring Me the Disco King" (which is just Bowie on vocals, Garson on piano, and Matt Chamberlain on drums).
posted by Prospero at 12:47 PM on March 5, 2008

Anything by Vienna Teng - especially Harbor and Homecoming, but just about anything.
posted by jferg at 12:49 PM on March 5, 2008

Keane has some great piano rock on their two albums "Hopes and Fears" and "Under the Iron Sea". They are my new music obsession.
posted by genefinder at 12:51 PM on March 5, 2008

Libido: The Piano Tribute To Nirvana
posted by artdrectr at 12:51 PM on March 5, 2008

Adele's "Hometown Glory" is my current fave song.

Charlotte Martin's cover of the Stones' "Wild Horses" (excuse the YouTube video)

And almost anything by
Rachael Yamagata
Over the Rhine
posted by pised at 12:52 PM on March 5, 2008

"Take Your Mama" by the Scissor Sisters has a fantastic post-Elton piano vibe. One of my favourite air piano songs.
posted by Shepherd at 12:54 PM on March 5, 2008

I can't recommend Jobriath strongly enough.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:55 PM on March 5, 2008

I know, I know, but The Jackson Five's "I Want You Back" has my all-time favorite piano riff.
posted by wafaa at 1:29 PM on March 5, 2008

I'm going to have to enthusiastically second some previously mentioned and add a few new ones:
River by Joni Mitchell
In the Lost and Found by Elliott Smith
Nightswimming by REM
Werewolves of London by Zevon!
A whole solid album of them? Closing Time by Tom Waits
Two absolutely breathtaking ones that you just have to hear:
In Hospital by The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir
Death Came and Got Me by Rosie Thomas
posted by thebellafonte at 1:33 PM on March 5, 2008

Also, Spoon's 'The Way We Get By' off of Kill the Moonlight is pretty good!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:35 PM on March 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Let's not forget Bruce Hornsby. Try his song Spider Fingers.

Also, Harry Connick, Jr. cut three albums – '20' '25' and '30'. (Recorded, I believe, at ages 20, 25 and 30). He sits down alone at the piano and plays without any other musicians on some great classic tunes. His over-produced big band albums and others leave me cold, but just him at the piano ... oh my.

And yes, another vote for Ben Folds.
posted by lpsguy at 1:42 PM on March 5, 2008

I say "I Don't Like Mondays" by the Boomtown Rats, and my Mefi-account-less friend says "Walking In Memphis" by Marc Cohn. And we both second many of the examples here.
posted by tyrantkitty at 1:54 PM on March 5, 2008

Locomotive Breath - Jethro Tull (Aqualung, A Little Light music)
Here Comes The Flood - Peter Gabriel (PG1)
posted by Gungho at 2:03 PM on March 5, 2008

Tori Amos has been mentioned several times, but I would really recommend the live CD from her two-disc album To Venus and Back. It does a good job of hinting at what an amazing singer/pianist she is when live in concert.
posted by sindark at 2:13 PM on March 5, 2008

Imagine (John Lennon)
posted by EmilyClimbs at 2:15 PM on March 5, 2008

Hmmm. Radiohead's "Pyramid Song."
posted by Windigo at 2:15 PM on March 5, 2008

as spiffyrob said...piano man by billy joel of course
posted by kowboy at 2:25 PM on March 5, 2008

Dresden Dolls.
Kate Nash.
posted by ChrisManley at 2:34 PM on March 5, 2008

Holy crap, guys. 58 answers in and nobody has said Queen?

Don't Stop Me Now version with clips from Top Gear and the Bugatti Veyron

Also, Nina Simone - Sinnerman. The video isn't that great so here's a video about the McLaren SLR.

And here's an awesome usage of sampling from Sinnerman: Talib Kweli - Get By.

Peel P50
posted by spec80 at 2:49 PM on March 5, 2008

Warren Zevon, particularly "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" and "Excitable Boy".

If you want to go even further back, start looking at Jerry Lee Lewis.
posted by dilettante at 3:20 PM on March 5, 2008

Great Balls of Fire
posted by caddis at 3:20 PM on March 5, 2008

"It's a Crime I Never Told You About The Diamonds In Your Eyes" by the Black Heart Procession. They have a lot of other piano stuff, too.
posted by jtron at 3:53 PM on March 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

The Associates : Breakfast
posted by Dr.Pill at 4:06 PM on March 5, 2008

Cat Stevens Morning Has Broken, Sad Lisa, Miles From Nowhere

Steely Dan My Old School, Any Major Dude, Do It Again

In jr. high Western Mass., these tunes epitomized pathos and sophistication, respectively.
posted by doncoyote at 5:47 PM on March 5, 2008

"Stay With Me" by the Faces
"All the Way to Memphis" by Mott the Hoople

For the more obscure Billy Joel, "Allentown" and "Laura" (and also "A Room of Our Own", although that's a bit more of an electric piano sound) from the excellent Nylon Curtain.

If you're up for a little jazz, you really owe it to yourself to check out Nat King Cole (maybe "What Can I Say After I'm Sorry"?) and the amazing Vince Guaraldi - his "A Flower is a Lovesome Thing" and "Willow Weep for Me" are wonderful.
posted by kristi at 5:48 PM on March 5, 2008

I'm a big fan of Konstantine by Something Corporate.
posted by jasminerain at 6:20 PM on March 5, 2008

Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah"
posted by kirkaracha at 6:33 PM on March 5, 2008

Comptine D'un Autre Ete from Amelie
posted by meeshell at 6:53 PM on March 5, 2008

Seconding Rachael Yamagata, and adding Charlotte Martin. Of Charlotte's two cds, On Your Shore has more simple, piano-based songs. Stromata is more highly produced, though also fantastic.
posted by ahimsa at 1:32 AM on March 6, 2008

Love, Reign O'er Me by The Who

A lot of Sarah McLachlan's live or acoustic stuff, in particular Possession. The version from the Storytellers session is best (if you can track down that bootleg), but the acoustic "hidden track" at the end of Fumbling Towards Ecstasy is nothing to complain about.

Oh, and there's a recording of Jewel covering The Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses", just her and the piano, that's highly regarded among Jewel fans. I'm not sure how it would go over with Stones fans.
posted by Myself at 2:42 AM on March 6, 2008

Seconding Sinnerman by Nina Simone
posted by clearly at 4:20 AM on March 6, 2008

Almost forgot - the Jello Biafra & Mojo Nixon album Prairie Home Invasion has lots of good piano songs, "Where Are We Gonna Work When The Trees Are Gone" stands out.
posted by Challahtronix at 9:03 AM on March 6, 2008

Some of my all time favorites:

Dennis Wilson (Beach boys) - Baby Blue
Todd Rundgren - Hello it's me
Kate Bush - The man with the child in his eyes
10cc - The things we do for love
The Zombies - Care of cell 44
Fleetwood Mac - Sarah, Songbird
Randy Newman - Short people

Oh... I could go on forever
posted by SurrenderMonkey at 10:50 AM on March 6, 2008

I just saw The Bad Plus recently at the Portland Jazz Fest and found them to be great. They're a jazz trio (piano, drums & bass) with lots of awesomeness. I recommend their cover of "Tom Sawyer" by Rush, but I feel confident you'll like anything by them.
posted by friendlyjuan at 3:50 PM on March 6, 2008

Todd Rundgren: Be Nice To Me
Bette Midler: Friends
Carole King: So Far Away
The Beatles: The Long and Winding Road (Naked Mix)
posted by Sys Rq at 4:53 PM on March 6, 2008

I can't be enthusiastic enough in my recommendation of Nina Simone music. Yes, of course Sinnerman like others have said but also:

Trouble in Mind
Love Me or Leave Me
Nobody Knows You When You're Down

Those are all fantastic. I Put A Spell On You isn't as piano heavy but the piano part is great.
posted by mjones at 7:03 AM on March 7, 2008

Nthing Fiona Apple, Rachael Yamagata, Rufus Wainwright, and Keane.

Some of the best Aimee Mann songs are piano-driven, such as Wise Up, Satellite, Amateur, and King of Jailhouse (she also has an awesome live cover of Coldplay's the Scientist, included in th sepecial edition of Lost in Space).

Also, some of Cat Power's, like her cover of I Found of a Reason, which is basically nothing but her voice and a piano.

Also, if you don't mind your music being very mainstream, some of Vanessa Carlton's songs are actually excellent. And Sara Bareilles, who sounds so much like Rachael Yamagata, is very new and very promising.
posted by howiamdifferent at 7:32 AM on March 7, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone!
posted by nuclear_soup at 7:59 AM on March 7, 2008

Just listened to Busby Berkeley Dreams by the Magnetic Fields and thought of this thread. What a wonderful song.
posted by cholstro at 2:27 PM on March 7, 2008

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