The piano is a very popular musical instrument to play and to listen to, and with good reason. Something magical happens when a piano is played. A truly gifted piano player can shake the walls, stir the soul and soothe us to sleep. The piano masters of yesteryear have influenced and inspired countless musicians and the end result is nothing short of a spectacular array of music ranging from classic rock to country and western and every genre in between. Here are ten of the most beautiful piano ballads ever recorded.
“Imagine” by John Lennon. Lennon’s vision of world peace is quite possibly one of the most beautiful songs ever written. It was ranked number three by Rolling Stone in its “500 Greatest Songs of all Time.” It shares top ten honors with the Beatles song “Hey Jude”.
“Vienna” by Billy Joel. Even though it is one of his lesser known songs, Billy Joel has admitted that “Vienna” is one of his favorites. It was released as the B side to his hit “She’s Always A Woman.”The song was featured in a 1981 episode of taxi and the movie soundtrack “13 Going On 30”. It is a beautiful reminder to slow down and enjoy life.
“The Rose” by Bette Midler. This song is so achingly simple and hauntingly beautiful. It is featured in the 1970’s movie of the same name. Bette Midler originally performed the song and it has been covered numerous times. It was a number 3 hit for the Divine Miss M, certified gold and won a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
“Piano Man” by Billy Joel. Probably the best known-and most loved-song by Billy Joel, “Piano Man” is the autobiographical tale of Joel’s time playing piano in a bar and the supporting cast of characters in his life at the time. Even though the song peaked at number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100, it is Joel’s most recognizable-and popular-song.
“Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word” by Elton John. This tale of unrequited love is one of John’s most overlooked ballads, often taking a place behind “Your Song,” “Tiny Dancer” and “Candle in the Wind.” It has been covered by numerous other artists including Joe Cocker, Mary J Blige and a duet with Ray Charles.
“I Will Remember You” by Sarah McLachlan. This stunning song was a Grammy winner for McLachlan in 1999 and was featured during the “In Memoriam” slideshow at the 61st Emmys.
“Don’t Know What You Got Til It’s Gone” by Cinderella. Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s there was a formula for becoming a successful hair band. Big hair, tight clothes and a power ballad. “Don’t Know What You Got Til It’s Gone,” showcased a softer, more melodic side as lead singer Tom Keiffer tickled the ivories and propelled Cinderella towards the top of the charts (the song peaked at #12).
“November Rain” by Guns and Roses. This song has got to be Guns and Roses at its best. It features Axl’s piano playing skills throughout and a scorching guitar solo by Slash. The song reportedly took over 10 years for Axle to write and was based on a short story by the name of “Without You” by Del James. The video for the song cost over 1.5 million dollars and is one of the most expensive videos ever shot.
“Brick” by Ben Folds Five. Ben Fold’s is known for his phenomenal piano playing skills, and the song “Brick” is no exception. Ben tackles the extremely political subject of abortion with a honesty that has no agenda. it is nor pro-life nor is it pro-choice. It is simply a retelling of a sad time in his life.
“The Way It Is” by Bruce Hornsby and the Range. Hornsby’s first release and biggest hit was inspired by the obvious divide in America. Rich and poor, black and white-both topics were addressed in this song. The song has been sampled or modified and included in several rap and hip hop songs.