Billy Joel conjures the image of his blonde-haired, blue-eyed wife Christie Brinkley on this off-kilter track, where she inspires him to pull out of the depths of his blue mood. In the 1993 documentary Shades Of Grey, Joel attributed the song's eclectic nature to the "very, very dark minor key thing" that shifts into an upbeat chorus that emulates Roy Orbison with Joel's falsetto-like vocal.
Brinkley likened the string-like synthesizer riff that heightens the tension in the verses to the iconic slashing string score in the Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho - a tension that finds release in the soaring chorus. "So right there in that song, it really captures the two emotions really meeting," she said in the Shades Of Grey documentary. "He's got that tension, but he's finding that release and finding something that he can call home - the blonde."
River Of Dreams is about Joel regaining his faith in humanity after a painful betrayal. His former brother-in-law, who was also godfather to Joel's daughter Alexa and served as his manager, stole millions from the singer and left him feeling bitter and angry. Joel wanted to explore his emotions on the album but was hesitant because, to the public, he led a charmed life and he didn't feel he had the right to complain. Brinkley told him he had to write about what was going on in his life and gave him the push he needed to write the autobiographical album.
Despite being a source of emotional support and the muse behind this tune, Brinkley was about to become the ex-Mrs. Joel. The supermodel and the singer divorced in 1994.