New York Groove: An Inside Look at the Stars, Shows, and Songs That Make NYC Rock Book Excerpt
One of Billy Joel’s most requested songs is “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant,” from his 1977 album The Stranger. The medley of three individual pieces began as one, “The Ballad of Brenda and Eddie.”
“Then I wrote the other pieces either prior to that or after that,” Joel explained in The Republican. “It was kind of based on side two of Abbey Road. I think the Beatles all came in with individual song fragments and George Martin helped them sew it all together.
“It’s looked on now as a work of genius but I said, ‘I know what happened. They didn’t finish the songs, they didn’t feel like it, and George Martin said, “Why don’t we do this?” and then they called it “Golden Slumbers.”’ That’s pretty much what I was going for, a long extended series of fragments sewn together to tell a story.”
"Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" by Billy Joel
Joel revealed on The Stranger 30th Anniversary Legacy Edition DVD that Fontana di Trevi, across the street from Carnegie Hall, was his inspiration for “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant.” The song’s signature line, however, originated at Benito II at 163 Mulberry Street. A waiter at the Little Italy restaurant asked, “A bottle of white? A bottle of red? Perhaps a bottle of rosé instead?” Joel liked its sound and used the line to open the song.
The building that housed Fontana di Trevi was demolished by May 2007 for the construction of One57, a 75-story supertall skyscraper. The Benito II site is now home of the La Bella Vita restaurant.
New York Groove: An Inside Look at the Stars, Shows, and Songs That Make NYC Rock