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Joel wrote this with Ronnie Spector in mind, which he talked about on The Howard Stern Show, where he also explained that it's written in a high key and challenging to sing - he had an easier time hitting those notes when he wrote the song. As for Spector, he was a big fan of her and loved the girl-group sound she exemplified. He met her a few times over the years, but only after he wrote the song.
Joel had recently moved from Los Angeles to New York, which helped inspire this song. He is from Long Island, and did not like life on the West Coast.
This was released in the US as the B-side to "I've Loved These Days" a month before it was put out as an A-side. Neither song charted, but in 1981, a live version recorded at the Milwaukee Arena was released on Joel's Songs In The Attic album and hit #17 in the US. Songs In The Attic was the first digitally-recorded live album.
Ronnie Spector, who was the inspiration for this song and leader of the popular girl-group, The Ronettes, recorded this song in 1977. She said at the time: "In a way it's my life story 'cause I was married in Hollywood, I lived in Hollywood, my life fell apart in Hollywood and now I am saying goodbye to Hollywood."
Spector's version was produced by Little Steven Van Zandt, who she met while singing backup for Bruce Springsteen in 1976. Springsteen's E-Street Band played backup for her.
Van Dyke Parks
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Reverend Horton Heat
The Reverend rants on psychobilly and the egghead academics he bashes in one of his more popular songs.