Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)

Album: River Of Dreams (1993)

Songfacts®:

  • Joel wrote this as a lullaby for his 7-year-old daughter Alexa Ray in response to her question, "Where do we go when we die?" Alexa's mom, Christie Brinkley, did the artwork for the album.
  • On the River Of Dreams album, Joel wrote each song in reaction to the one that came before it, and "Lullabye" was written to precede the title track. He wrote it as a piano piece, and had the melody before he came up with the lyrics. His original idea was to it be part of a suite with "The River Of Dreams."
  • The original lyrics were about a man who lost his faith. According to a chat on Joel's The Complete Hits Collection 1973-1997, he had these lyrics translated to Latin and worked them out as a Gregorian chant. It was when putting his daughter to bed one night that he got the idea to turn the song into a lullaby - a song that would represent drifting off to sleep into the River of Dreams.

Comments: 19

  • Rylee from UsaMy father isn't the best communicator, but he can always find the right card or the perfect song. Billy Joel's Lullaby is my song, and I love it. My Abba gave me this song in a way that's hard to explain, but I always know he cares, that he loves me, even if he has a hard time saying so. Thank you, Mr Joel, for sharing this gift for your daughter with all daughters
  • Bill from Miami, FlThis song was out in late 1993. It was playing in the ears of my Partner when he died of AIDS as I held him in May of 1994. If it was truly about his 1995 divorce, he would have had to have written it a good 3+ years before the divorce, regardless of what he later said.
  • Doug from SomervilleForget the details of the when...listen to the song and think about the why.. Answering the question of a 7 year old...what happens when we die? The words and the melody of his song, I believe, provides the answer that is needed for everyone who wonders. We become part of the hearts of those that loved us.
    Think about that...don't you think about those you have lost with fond memories....a feeling from your heart about them? The answer he provides is from my opinion, the best answer of all!!! It brings tears to my eyes whenever I hear this song....
  • Maureen from PhiladelphiaActually heard this morning on the Sirius XM channel 30, which is the billy Joel channel right now, why it was written. The explanation was actually from Billy himself (he was speaking)...he said it was to help his daughter understand that even though her mom and he were getting a divorce he would always be there for her.
  • James from Chicago, TxJustin from Philly....Actually Joel explained in an interview that this was also about his divorce. He even says "But also this was during a time when her mom and I were splitting up" verbatim. The lyrics "I promised I would never leave you" are a reference to his response that came when his daughter asked "Daddy, will you ever leave me" which refers to her daughters viewpoint of the divorce.
  • Tacey from New Milford, NjBenjamin, please leave religion out of it. I didn't come here to get redeemed.
  • Finn from Dublin, IrelandThis is a beautiful song...if you want to hear Billy tell about it, watch this video http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x50ujs_lullabye-billy-joel_music
  • Benjamin from Cleveland, OhThis is a really beautiful song. I think it's sad that this was the answer he gave his daughter's question about where we go when we die. Kids should be told the truth about Jesus being the way to Heaven. John 3:16
  • Randy from Reading, PaI heard him talk about it, he said his Alexa his daughter asked him what happens when you die. This was his answer.
  • Nikki from Ny, FlThis song tears me up, after my fathers death last month - and being from LI like Billy, I grew up a fan like my parents. Although my father never literally sang this song to me, all Billy Joel has been a reminecent of my dad... this one kills me and I will sing it to my kids!
  • Mike Hughes from Cincinnati, OhWhen he was on Inside the Actor's Studio he said that it was written for both the question on death and for helping his daughter to cope with the divorce.
  • Carl Gurney from St Albans, United StatesNever mind what these people say, hear it from the man himself! Billy Joel talking about how this song relates to his daughters question and his break up with his wife ;-) Who was it that wrote "NOTHING" in capital letters ^^
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nprteZX80tk&mode=related&search=
  • Me from There, PaThis song has NOTHING to do with divorce...it has to do with ALEXA ;)
  • Tony from Waukesha, WiBilly Joel had a good relationship with Christie at the time of this album being released. In fact, Christie Brinkley painted the cover for the "River of Dreams" album. This song is, however, a direct response to Alexa's question about death. If you listen to the lyrics you will understand this. If you have children and they ask you this question you need to provide them with a comforting thought instead of harsh truth. This is the trigger for lyrics as "Then in your heart there will always be a part of me"
  • Roxanne from Southwest, FlI saw a special on television with Billy Joel, taped in 2001. He said the song was written because his daughter asked about what happens when people die, and he explained that they lived on in others' hearts. This was right after the 9/11 teagedies. He started to perform it and could not finish it because he was in tears. The whole audience was also.
  • Marcella from Philly, Paum actually billy and christie divorced in 1994. and the song was about his divorce because it takes about two years for a divorce to become official.
  • Madison from Atlanta, GaI really dont care when this song was written or whether its supposed to deal with his divorce or not. The beautiful thing about music is that the writer writes it to deal with his life, and we listen to it to deal with our lives. We have the freedom to hear the words and interpret what we feel applies to us.
  • Chris from Boston, MaBilly has been talking about this being about his daughter and their IMPENDING divorce for years. And that's two years after it was released, not written.
  • Justin from Philadelphia, PaBilly divorced Christie Brinkley in 1995 two years after this song was written. There is no way this song deals with that.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Shaun Morgan of Seether

Shaun Morgan of SeetherSongwriter Interviews

Shaun breaks down the Seether songs, including the one about his brother, the one about Ozzy, and the one that may or may not be about his ex-girlfriend Amy Lee.

Real or Spinal Tap

Real or Spinal TapMusic Quiz

They sang about pink torpedoes and rocking you tonight tonight, but some real lyrics are just as ridiculous. See if you can tell which lyrics are real and which are Spinal Tap in this lyrics quiz.

Grateful Dead Characters

Grateful Dead CharactersMusic Quiz

Many unusual folks appear in Grateful Dead songs. Can you identify them?

Director Mark Pellington ("Jeremy," "Best Of You")

Director Mark Pellington ("Jeremy," "Best Of You")Song Writing

Director Mark Pellington on Pearl Jam's "Jeremy," and music videos he made for U2, Jon Bon Jovi and Imagine Dragons.

Which Restaurants Are Most Mentioned In Song Lyrics?

Which Restaurants Are Most Mentioned In Song Lyrics?Song Writing

Katy Perry mentions McDonald's, Beyoncé calls out Red Lobster, and Supertramp shouts out Taco Bell - we found the 10 restaurants most often mentioned in songs.

Jimmy Jam

Jimmy JamSongwriter Interviews

The powerhouse producer behind Janet Jackson's hits talks about his Boyz II Men ballads and regrouping The Time.