Billy Joel’s ‘Where’s the Orchestra?’ Covered by New York Singer-Songwriter Julian Velard
Billy Joel is connected with New York City like few other artists, so it only makes sense that when singer-songwriter Julian Velard set out to write and record an album-length ode to the Big Apple, he'd choose to cover one of the many classics from Joel's songbook.
But fans who are only familiar with Joel's greatest hits may be surprised to find that rather than an obvious choice, like 'New York State of Mind,' Velard decided to record 'Where's the Orchestra?,' the closing cut from Joel's 1982 LP 'The Nylon Curtain.' While it may not namecheck NYC landmarks as eagerly as 'Big Man on Mulberry Street,' the song's wistfully elegaic tone is perfect for the final few minutes of an album -- which is exactly where you'll hear it on Velard's new record, the cheekily titled 'If You Don't Like It, You Can Leave.'
"I was attracted to this song for so many reasons," Velard tells Ultimate Classic Rock. "It's a composition that directly links Billy to the tradition of American Songbook -- take away the saccharine soprano sax and accordion, and at times, it has the feel of a Rogers & Hart tune. Also, I love the way he uses the idea of the '30s/'40s/'50s golden age of Broadway nightlife (my introduction to the theater crowd) as a metaphor for his own disaffection and depression."
Which is not to say that Velard's own music is disaffected or depressed -- he applauds the city's gruff exterior ('New York, I Love It When You're Mean'), lists the advantages of the subway/taxi life ('I Don't Know How to Drive'), and swoons against the skyline ('Brooklyn Kind of Love'), and that's just over the record's first three songs. But it's hard to draw on such a deep well of cultural history without indulging in bittersweet nostalgic moments, and 'If You Don't Like It, You Can Leave' has those too -- including 'Where's the Orchestra?.'
"People should know that outside his songs about Brenda and Eddie and Mr. Cacciatore, Billy Joel is (arguably the last) in the line of the great American song tradition that was born in NYC and was the zenith of popular culture in the first half of the 20th century," adds Velard. "This song is proof."
You can check out Julian Velard's cover of 'Where's the Orchestra?' below, and hear more tracks from 'If You Don't Like It, You Can Leave' at this link.
Hear Billy Joel Perform 'Where's the Orchestra?'