About The Song

This song was released on September 29, 1983, on his ninth studio album, An Innocent Man (1983). “Uptown Girl” peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 for five consecutive weeks from November 12 to December 10, 1983. It also reached number one in the United Kingdom for five weeks, his only number-one hit in the country. It was the second-best-selling single of 1983 in the United Kingdom behind only Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon”, which Joel had knocked off the number-one position on November 1, 1983.

Billy Joel married the supermodel Christie Brinkley less than two years after this song was released, but he wasn’t even dating her when he started writing the song – he was actually dating another supermodel: Elle Macpherson. Asked about his relationship with Elle on The Howard Stern Show in 2010, Joel explained: “We dated on and off. We weren’t like engaged or anything. We just kind of dated. She was 19.”
Joel went on to explain that he and Elle parted ways when she went off to Europe, which is around the time he started dating Brinkley. He reworked the lyrics, and by the time he finished the song, it was about Brinkley.
On Australian TV in 2006, Billy Joel said: “The song was originally called ‘Uptown Girls’ not ‘Uptown Girl.’ I know its associated with Christie but when I started to write that song I had recently divorced prior to meeting her, all of the sudden I’m a rock star and divorced. All these women were going to go out with me.”
As he explained to Howard Stern, Joel was on vacation in the Caribbean when he was playing the piano, looked up, and saw Elle Macpherson, Christie Brinkley and Whitney Houston (who was more a model than a musician at that point) standing over his piano in wonderment watching him play. Joel thanked his creator for his good fortune, and began dating Elle. His first attempt at the song had the lyrics, “Uptown girls, I’ve been around the world.” The music was more of a classical piece when it started.
Joel is from Long Island, New York, and always considered himself a working-class, regular guy. This song reflects his surprise at his ability to attract such beautiful, glamorous women. In a 1987 interview with Q magazine, Joel said: “The fact that I can attract such a beautiful woman as Christie should give hope to every ugly guy in the world!”