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Cold Spring Harbor (album)

Cold Spring Harbor is the debut studio album by American recording artist Billy Joel, released on November 1, 1971, by Family Productions.

Cold Spring Harbor
Cold Spring Harbor by Billy Joel, original album art.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 1, 1971
RecordedJuly 1971
Length33:07 (original)
29:53 (reissue)
LabelFamily Productions/Columbia
ProducerArtie Ripp
Billy Joel chronology
Cold Spring Harbor
Piano Man
Reissue cover
Cold Spring Harbor album cover.jpg
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic3/5 stars[1]

Composition and recordingEdit

Cold Spring Harbor was named after a hamlet of the same name in the Town of Huntington, New York. It is located on Long Island Sound near Joel's hometown. The front cover was photographed at Harbor Road in Cold Spring Harbor.[2]

His song "Tomorrow Is Today" drew from his period of depression and hospitalization the year before.[3] Joel later released live versions of "She's Got a Way" and "Everybody Loves You Now", first included on this album, in his Songs in the Attic (1981), recorded in live performances. "She's Got a Way" was also released as a single in early 1982, and peaked at No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[4]



Through an error in the album's mastering, the songs played slightly too fast, causing Joel's voice to sound unnaturally high (one-half of a semitone higher—Joel joked that he sounded more like one of Alvin and the Chipmunks than himself). According to a long-standing rumor, when Joel first heard the finished product, he "ripped it off the turntable, ran out of the house, and threw [the record] down the street."[1] Arthur "Artie" Ripp, owner of Family Productions and hence the owner of the original master tapes, was responsible for the production error, and the mistake cost him his friendship with Joel. He had originally signed the 22-year-old Joel to a ten-record contract that stripped Joel of all rights to the original tapes and to the publishing rights to all current and future songs.[5]

As part of a deal with Columbia Records to release Joel from his contract, Ripp was still able to collect royalties on sales of Joel's records long after Joel's acrimonious departure from Family Productions (up until 1986's The Bridge). Ripp only sold the publishing rights to Joel's song catalog back to Joel reluctantly after intense pressure from CBS/Columbia Records president Walter Yetnikoff, who claimed he had to threaten Ripp to finalize the deal.[5][6][7]


In July–September 1983, Ripp and Larry Elliot remixed Cold Spring Harbor at Ripp's Fidelity Studios in Studio City, California. The album's pitch was adjusted in order to make Joel's vocal tone more mature. In order to enhance the album's sound, Ripp brought in studio musicians Mike McGee (drums), Al Campbell (synthesizers), and L.D. Dixon (Fender Rhodes) to overdub new rhythm sections on "Everybody Loves You Now" and "Turn Around." In addition, "You Can Make Me Free" was truncated by nearly three minutes (removing most of the original tail-end, fadeout jam), and the bass, drums, and orchestration on "Tomorrow Is Today" were removed.

The remix was released through Columbia Records, without any involvement from Joel. In a 2011 interview with actor Alec Baldwin, Joel stated that despite the remix, he believes that the album still does not sound very good.

Track listingEdit

All songs written by Billy Joel.

Side one
No.TitleLength (Original LP)Length
1."She's Got a Way"3:002:51
2."You Can Make Me Free"6:052:59
3."Everybody Loves You Now"3:002:49
4."Why Judy Why"3:052:58
5."Falling of the Rain"2:462:38
Side two
No.TitleLength (Original LP)Length
6."Turn Around"3:493:06
7."You Look So Good to Me"2:422:29
8."Tomorrow Is Today"5:204:40
10."Got to Begin Again"3:042:52



Year (1984) Peak
Japanese Albums (Oricon)[8] 44
UK Albums (OCC)[9] 95
US Billboard 200[10][A] 158


  • A ^ Cold Spring Harbor peaked at number 202 on the Billboard Bubbling Under the Top LP's chart in 1972.[11] The album was then re-issued by Columbia in December 1983. All chart positions listed for Cold Spring Harbor are for its reissue.


  1. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Cold Spring Harbor - Billy Joel". Allmusic. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
  2. ^ "Cold Spring Harbor", Musical Maps website
  3. ^ Bordowitz, Hank (2006). Billy Joel: The Life and Times of an Angry Young Man. Billboard Books. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-8230-8248-3.
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 8th Edition (Billboard Publications)
  5. ^ a b Bordowitz, Hank. Billy Joel: The Life and Times of an Angry Young Man. Billboard Books, 2006.
  6. ^ Interview with Yetnikoff. The Last Play at Shea (documentary film). 2010.
  7. ^ Last Play at Shea (2010). The New York Times. October 28, 2010.
  8. ^ Okamoto, Satoshi (2011). Single Chart Book: Complete Edition 1968-2010 (in Japanese). Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. ISBN 4871310884.
  9. ^ "Billy Joel | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  10. ^ "Cold Spring Harbor - Billy Joel: Awards". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  11. ^ "Bubbling Under the Top LP's". Billboard. No. April 8, 1972. p. 45. Accessed from July 8, 2013.