I Go To Extremes

Album: Storm Front (1989)
Charted: 70 6

Songfacts®:

  • According to Joel, this song was written about suffering from manic depression. Joel identifies himself as a manic depressive, and says that it actually comes in quite handy when writing songs, as there's not a lot of material in moderation. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Justin - Lawton, OK
  • Joel addresses his listener in this song as "darling," which likely refers to his wife at the time, Christine Brinkley, who he was with from 1985-1994.
  • Joel's piano part, especially at the end of this song, is congruent with the lyrical theme, as he uses the whole keyboard range, going back and forth from the extreme high and low notes.
  • Both Joel and Lindsay Lohan both hail from Long Island. However, that's not their only connection. The actress has some of his lyrics tattooed on her body - the words "Clear as a crystal, sharp as a knife I feel like I'm in the prime of my life" from this song are inked on her rib cage. Lohan stated the lyric was important to her because it represents everything she's been through in life and it signifies that she's focused.
  • The video was directed by Paula Greif, whose credits include "How Soon Is Now?" for The Smiths and "Notorious" for Duran Duran. When Billy Joel was recording the song, he pounded the keys so hard that he broke some strings (Joel often treated his pianos like Mike Tyson treated his opponents). When Greif heard this story, she made sure to shoot scenes of Joel frantically playing the instrument, even with his feet.

    As for Greif, she stopped making videos a few years later and became an artist specializing in ceramics.

Comments: 7

  • Groovus Maximus from Boston, MaAlways a favorite of mine & Liberty WAILS on this song -- he hits as hard if not harder than most metal drummers! (I should know, I was a progressive thrash-type skinsman in the late '80s and '90s). Another perfectly placed examination of the human condition by Mr. Joel, and a highlight of both the "Storm Front" album and subsequent tour. I seem to recall Garth Brooks covered this, and for some reason, it was an even bigger hit for him(?!) -- not sure how or why...
  • Ariel from Los Angeles, Philippinesactually this is more of de vito's song(billy's drummer) billy helped him create the song
  • Ken from Louisville, KyJoel has recently been quoted as saying this song was a message to Christie Brinkley to try to understand him when their marriage was in trouble.
  • Mike from Hueytown , AlNo matter what the song is about I'm not sure why radio stations around here don't play this more often.
  • Jose from Lodi, NjCan you ever remember Billy singing better than this?

    Rainbow's Joe Lynn Turner (from my hometown of Hackensack, NJ) sang backup on this.

  • Ken from Louisville, KyJoel has said that the woman who impressed with the "Halston dress and people that she knew at Elaine's" was Bianca Jagger.

  • Dave from Pittsburgh, PaAt his concert "Live at Yankee Stadium" joel jokingly says the words "I don't know why i go for Ice Cream" in place of the origional lyrics...
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Country Song TitlesFact or Fiction

Country songs with titles so bizarre they can't possibly be real... or can they?

Barry Dean ("Pontoon," "Diamond Rings And Old Barstools")Songwriter Interviews

A top country songwriter, Barry talks about writing hits for Little Big Town, Tim McGraw and Jason Aldean.

Michael Glabicki of Rusted RootSongwriter Interviews

Michael tells the story of "Send Me On My Way," and explains why some of the words in the song don't have a literal meaning.

Chris Squire of YesSongwriter Interviews

One of the most dynamic bass player/songwriters of his time, Chris is the only member of Yes who has been with the band since they formed in 1968.

Stand By Me: The Perfect Song-Movie CombinationSong Writing

In 1986, a Stephen King novella was made into a movie, with a classic song serving as title, soundtrack and tone.

Adam Young of Owl CitySongwriter Interviews

Is Owl City on a quest for another hit like "Fireflies?" Adam answers that question and explains the influences behind many others.