Famous Last Words

Album: River Of Dreams (1993)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • By the time Billy Joel came to record River Of Dreams, he had become disillusioned with the music business. He sings on the album's closing track:

    "These are the last words I have to say
    That's why this took so long to write
    There will be other words some other day
    But that's the story of my life"

    Co-producer Danny Kortchmar explained in Mojo magazine: "He was intimating that he might be running out of ideas and becoming less happy with writing pop songs. That's why the last song on the album is called 'Famous Last Words.'"
  • 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."

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

James Bond Theme Songs

James Bond Theme SongsMusic Quiz

How well do you know the 007 theme songs?

Bands Named After Real People (Who Aren't In The Band)

Bands Named After Real People (Who Aren't In The Band)Song Writing

How a gym teacher, a janitor, and a junkie became part of some very famous band names.

Justin Timberlake

Justin TimberlakeFact or Fiction

Was Justin the first to be Punk'd by Ashton Kutcher? Did Britney really blame him for her meltdown? Did his bandmates think he was gay?

Elton John

Elton JohnFact or Fiction

Does he have beef with Gaga? Is he Sean Lennon's godfather? See if you can tell fact from fiction in the Elton John edition.

Victoria Williams

Victoria WilliamsSongwriter Interviews

Despite appearances on Carson, Leno and a Pennebaker film, Williams remains a hidden treasure.

Richie McDonald of Lonestar

Richie McDonald of LonestarSongwriter Interviews

Richie talks about the impact of "Amazed," and how his 4-year-old son inspired another Lonestar hit.