BILLY JOEL SONG OF THE DAY: "The Downeaster 'Alexa'"
(from the 1989 album "Storm Front")
The tale of the travails of the baymen -- who fish in the bays of the East End and try to keep their homes while the rich and famous of the Hamptons settle around them -- became a minor hit for Joel in 1989, reaching only No. 57 on the pop charts. The folk song, however, did bring national attention to the plight of the fishermen, many of whom Joel knew personally as his neighbors at the time. It was one of several protest songs from "Storm Front," which reflected more of a political bent to Joel's work. "There ain't much future for a man who works the sea," Joel sings. "There ain't no island left for Islanders like me." It's a lament that is even more prevalent today than it was when he wrote it.
JOEL SAYS "That's a song I'm very proud of because I actually wrote a folk song, which is very hard to do in this day and age. Bruce [Springsteen] has done it ... but not a lot of people do it anymore. It's difficult to do and have it be real and feel authentic. But when you're talking about real people in a real situation and it's a universal thought, then it can be a folk song.
I was writing from the heart about a community that I really feel very strongly about being part of my home that's slowly but surely disappearing. It saddens me a lot."
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