Coming Around Again: How 'The Stranger' Turned Billy Joel From Struggling Singer-Songwriter to Superstar

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Billy Joel photographed on Dec. 7, 1977.

Welcome back to the Coming Around Again podcast, part of the Pop Shop family, where host Andrew Unterberger and a variety of guests discuss notable anniversaries being celebrated in the music world.

This week, Billboard senior editor Frank DiGiacomo comes on to discuss an album that he's loved for 40 years: Billy Joel's The Stranger. Released in 1977, The Stranger would go on to become the best-selling album in Columbia Records history, spawning four top 40 hits, and having even its deep cuts recirculated endlessly through FM (and eventually, classic rock) radio. However, its success was hardly guaranteed for Joel at the time: Before The Stranger, he was at risk of becoming a cult act, with his previous two albums having failed to build on his early commercial momentum.

On the podcast, DiGiacomo shares his memories of being a young Billy Joel fan in Youngstown, Ohio at the time of the album's release, and discusses both the impact the album had at the time, and the ways it was misunderstood by critics who summarily dismissed Joel at the peak of his popularity. We also debate favorite songs on the set, and wonder what a new Billy Joel album might sound like in 2017.

Listen below, and be sure to check back every week to see which classic artists, albums and songs are Coming Around Again!