While Billy Joel has been touring stadiums and doing his Madison Square Garden residency for years now, he hasn’t released a new pop/rock album in three decades. It was August 10, 1993 — 30 years ago — that that final album, River of Dreams, arrived.
River of Dreams featured more serious songs than usual Billy, covering topics like the overdevelopment of suburbia, depression, pessimism and a lack of trust in one’s fellow man. The gospel-influenced title track, however, was a major hit and Billy’s last top 10 to date, while “Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)” was a touching tribute to his daughter, Alexa Ray. Billy’s then-wife, Christie Brinkley, painted the album’s cover.
While it wasn’t clear at the time, the album’s final track, “Famous Last Words,” was a deliberate statement by Billy indicating that he was done with working in the pop/rock idiom.
As he explained in an interview about the album on his website, “I felt like I had reached a point where I wasn’t going to write songs anymore. It was sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy… it just seemed like ‘This is the time to write that song and I can close the book.'”
Since then, Billy has released a few live albums, as well as Fantasies & Delusions, an 2001 album of classical music composed by him, but played by pianist Richard Joo.
Singles-wise, he released the Bob Dylan cover “To Make You Feel My Love” and the Freddie Scott cover “Hey Girl,” both in 1997. But since River of Dreams, he’s only put out two new original pop/rock songs with lyrics both in 2007: “All My Life,” dedicated to his then-wife Katie Lee, and “Christmas In Fallujah,” which was written by him but performed by Cass Dillon.
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