‘Baby Grand’ by Billy Joel (with Ray Charles) – Classic Hit or Miss
“Baby Grand” is the fourth and final single released off Billy Joel’s album The Bridge. A duet with Joel and Ray Charles, the song is a ballad dedicated to the baby grand piano, and the relationship it can share with its players. The two originally got together when Charles contacted Joel about the naming of his daughter, Alexa Ray, after Charles. Charles then suggested they create a song together.Joel originally sang the song in his thick New York accent, but decided to do a Charles impression instead when he noticed Charles was trying to imitate his style. The song was positively received by critics. The single peaked at #75 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and at #3 on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart. The music video features Joel and Charles playing the piano right next to each other.
Reception for the song was mostly positive. Anthony DeCurtis of Rolling Stone said that Charles’ “[turned] in an impressively genuine performance.” Steve Morse of The Boston Globe said that the song was “engaging.” However, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic gave the song a negative review, saying that the song was “weighed down by Joel’s vocal affectations.”Stephen Holden believed that the song had a chance to become a “modern standard.” Dave Hoekstra of The Chicago Sun-Times believed that because of the song, Joel “demands and deserves respect as a songwriter in this genre.” The Philadelphia Inquirer believed that the song was the album’s “obvious high point,” saying that the song was “the apotheosis of the musical-instrument-as-woman genre.