“It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” is a hit 1980 song performed by Billy Joel, from the hit album Glass Houses. The song was number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts for two weeks, from July 19 through August 1, 1980. The song spent 11 weeks in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 and was the 7th biggest hit of 1980 according to American Top 40. The song is an examination of the themes of a musician’s declining fame and changing public tastes that were expressed in his 1975 hit “The Entertainer”.
The single eventually reached Platinum status from the RIAA for sales of over 1 million copies in the United States.
The song is a cynical look at the music industry as a publicist/manager begs the protagonist to remain hip for the younger crowd (“What’s the matter with the car I’m driving?” / “Can’t you tell that it’s out of style?”), and the protagonist’s refusal to change, claiming his music will remain relevant regardless of his appearance. The song was a reaction by Joel at the new music genres that were around in the late 1970s (punk, funk, new wave). It was inspired by Joel reading a review about a particular (unnamed) band, and realizing that he had no idea what their music sounded like. The song also includes the line “Alright Rico!” to kick off the saxophone solo performed by Richie Cannata.
Billy Joel – vocals, piano and electric piano
Dave Brown – electric guitar
Richie Cannata – saxophone solo
Liberty DeVitto – drums and percussion
Russell Javors – electric guitar
Doug Stegmeyer – bass guitar