15 Great Rock Songs Featuring Piano

Written by on December 9, 2016

Every couple months, my KPSU radio show “Six Degrees of Rockination” has a theme. In November 2016, that theme was the piano. What songs did I play?

The Bus Boys – “The Boys Are Back In Town”

If you’ve seen the movie 48 Hours, you’ve heard this song. Fast, fun, old school rock ‘n’ roll. A true classic.

The Jim Jones Revue – “Where Da Money Go?”

This one’s a rocker. The piano never does anything spectacular, but its rolling riff carries the song from open to close.

Regina Spektor – “Dance Anthem of the 80s”

Regina’s often a little too pretty for me, but this one’s got a nice pop feel to it. Plus, the lyrics are cute and funny.

Fastball – “You’re An Ocean”

This is damn near a perfect pop song. Plus, it features Fifth Beatle Billy Preston on piano.

Elton John – “Susie (Dramas)”

A piano show has to include Sir Elton, right? But of course, I had to choose a deep, deep cut. This one’s so deep, it barely sounds like Elton John.

Bruce Hornsby and the Range – “Another Day”

Again, a deep cut from a seminal piano rocker. I love the energy of this song. A real boogie.

Billy Joel – “Root Beer Rag”

Amazing piano work on this ragtime instrumental. You’d think this is the best piano playing on the list, until you get to…

Harry Connick Jr. – “Booker”

Written about Harry’s piano teacher, the solo in the middle of this song is mind-bending. It sounds like a piano hallucination.

Ben Folds – “Zak and Sara”

No rock piano list is complete without Ben Folds. This is from his solo work. Gotta love a rock song about schizophrenia, amiright?

Birdy – “Skinny Love”

Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love” was already beautiful. Birdy plays it on piano and increases its beauty tenfold.

Crash Kings – “14 Arms”

This is a newer band putting out some really good piano-based rock music. Another thing to like about this song: some world-class screaming.

The Mountain Goats – “Dance Music”

I normally associate the Goats with acoustic guitar, but they pull out the piano now and then, like on this poppy little number about surviving a dysfunctional childhood.

Jack’s Mannequin – “Kill the Messenger”

Andrew McMahon’s one of my favorite songwriters, no matter which of his bands he’s playing in.

Sam Roberts – “Detroit ’67”

Just like with “Where Da Money Go,” the piano never takes off here, but instead sets the groove for the entire song.

Transplants – “Diamonds and Guns”

Our only foray into hip hop, this song’s got an absolutely brilliant piano hook.

Want to hear the entire radio show on Six Degrees of Rockination? Here’s the link. A solid hour of fantastic piano-based rock ‘n’ roll.





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Reader's opinions
  1. Nick Navari   On   January 5, 2018 at 2:59 pm

    This playlist…is perfect. Root Beer Rag? Yes. DANCE MUSIC? Of course. And I knew it would be impossible to see a list without Ben Folds, glad he was here. Job well done as well on the deep Elton John, Bruce Hornsby, and Fastball selections. I had a blast listening through this.

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