Honesty

Album: 52nd Street (1979)
Charted: 24

Songfacts®:

  • This song makes the case that truth is harder to find than love. Joel sings about how he can find someone to comfort him with promises, but honesty is far more rare. You can be in love with someone, but it doesn't mean you're going to have truth.

    It was the third single released from Joel's sixth album, 52nd Street.
  • When Joel started writing this song, he started with the title "Home Again," but was looking for something more appropriate. At his Howard Stern town hall appearance in 2014, he explained: "I didn't have a lyric for it, so my drummer started to sing 'sodomy' - 'sodomy... such a lonely word.' So I had to come up with some lyrics fast."
  • Beyoncé recorded this song in 2008. It appears on the Platinum Edition of her album I Am... Sasha Fierce.

Comments: 5

  • Tom from Sydney, AustraliaIt is a disappointment that 'Sodomy' was the title prior to 'Honesty'. 'Home Again' is bland but it is better.

    I am questioning truthfulness at the moment. Was there anything happening in Billy Joel's life which inspired the second half of the chorus, "Honesty is hardly ever heard -- and mostly what I need from you"? Wikipedia says the song was recorded in July - August 1978 ('52nd Street' album). His marriage to Elizabeth Small? A reneging on a business contract? False flattery from the public? I request that any answer be the truth i.e. if nothing is forthcoming, I prefer that to something made up. Much appreciated.
  • Groovus Maximus from Boston, MaStunning, staggeringly powerful song -- an all-time favorite among the many works of genius Billy Joel has created. From the lovely simplicity of the opening piano figure, it builds organically into a pop masterpiece of sheer grandeur and magnificence, a plaintive cry from the very soul of us all. The bridge ("I could find a lover... I could find a friend... I could have security until the bitter end") is one of the best encapsulations of human interaction and interpersonal relationships any philosopher could have possibly stated; Billy has an incredible facility with lyrical & musical invention which few could ever hope to duplicate or even come close!
  • Dana from Woodbury, MnThe working title was an inside joke among Joel and the members of his band.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyBilly almost always wrote the music first and added lyrics later. When writing the music, he'd use any words he could think of to fit the meter, before writing the actual lyrics. He said when he wrote Honesty, the working title was "Sodomy"!
  • Matt from Fishers, InShows how honesty is rarely alive in people, he says it is a lonely word because not many obtain this important characteristic.
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