For the most part, these really were Joel's famous last words, as he essentially retired from songwriting after the release of the album (with rare exceptions like "All My Life" and "Christmas In Fallujah
"). He didn't realize he made that decision until he actually read what he wrote. He told Sirius XM in 2016:
"By the time I was finishing writing the material on the River Of Dreams
album, I felt like I had come to the end of a book that I was writing. I even refer to that in the song 'Famous Last Words.' Without me sitting down and intending, 'Okay, this is my last song,' I just started to write like that, and that was the subject matter.
I didn't really know that I was at the end of a songwriting career until I wrote the song. I kind of re-read the lyrics and I went, 'Oh, I guess I'm done.' I don't see it as a sad song, I just see at as, well, that's the end of this book. 'Cause I even left the door open for other things to happen that might turn into songs. I've never slammed the door shut and said, 'I'll never write songs again.' I just don't know. But I just felt like, I wanna do something else."