C'était Toi (You Were The One)

Album: Glass Houses (1980)
Play Video


  • A ballad among rock numbers on Billy Joel's Glass Houses album, the lonely singer consoles himself in a smoky European café as he recalls the woman who got away.
  • Joel called this the worst song he's ever written, mostly because of his weak grasp of the French language. "It's a song written in French - and I don't even speak French," he told Entertainment Weekly in 2002. "I love the sound of the language, though, so I wrote a song and got this guy to translate my lyrics. I tried to make them fit the song, but it [came out] absurd."

    Joel's piano ballad "Honesty," from the album 52nd Street, had been a huge hit in France, so he thought he could impress his French fans by singing to them in their own language. It didn't work out that way.

    He continued: "Do you remember the movie The Producers, how after they do 'Springtime For Hitler,' the audience just sits there? Well, that's what the French did after I performed that song. The worst thing you can do to the French is to massacre their language. The worst thing you can do to the French is to massacre their language. After the show I asked the promoter 'What happened?' And he said, 'Well, they thought that you were singing in Polish.' That's when I said, this song really sucks."
  • This was used on the TV show Freaks And Geeks in the 2000 episode "Carded And Discarded."
  • Glass Houses won the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance in 1981. It was also nominated for Album of the Year but lost to Christopher Cross' self-titled debut.


Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Steven Tyler of Aerosmith

Steven Tyler of AerosmithSongwriter Interviews

Tyler talks about his true love: songwriting. How he identifies the beauty in a melody and turns sorrow into art.

Concert Disasters

Concert DisastersFact or Fiction

Ozzy biting a dove? Alice Cooper causing mayhem with a chicken? Creed so bad they were sued? See if you can spot the real concert mishaps.

Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne

Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of WayneSongwriter Interviews

The guy who brought us "Stacy's Mom" also wrote the Jane Lynch Emmy song and Stephen Colbert's Christmas songs.

Sub Pop Founder Bruce Pavitt On How To Create A Music Scene

Sub Pop Founder Bruce Pavitt On How To Create A Music SceneSong Writing

With $50 and a glue stick, Bruce Pavitt created Sub Pop, a fanzine-turned-label that gave the world Nirvana and grunge. He explains how motivated individuals can shift culture.

Francesca Battistelli

Francesca BattistelliSongwriter Interviews

The 2011 Artist of the Year at the Dove Awards isn't your typical gospel diva, and she thinks that's a good thing.

80s Music Quiz 1

80s Music Quiz 1Music Quiz

MTV, a popular TV theme song and Madonna all show up in this '80s music quiz.