My Life

Album: 52nd Street (1978)
Charted: 12 3
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  • This song about asserting your independence was the theme to the 1980 television sitcom Bosom Buddies - the one that introduced many of us to Tom Hanks (in a dress!). However, because of licensing issues, the title theme was not Joel's version and was sung by a soundalike singer.

    Even by '80s standards, the show had a very long opening sequence, with the song playing for about a minute at the beginning of the broadcast. When the series was released on DVD, the song had to be purged for legal reasons (this is very common - before they got the music cleared, the WKRP in Cincinnati DVD episodes sounded ridiculous with most of the music expunged). It was replaced with a song called "Shake Me Loose" by Stephanie Mills.
  • Note the pleasing high harmonies on this one - Chicago members Peter Cetera and Donnie Dacus joined Joel for the backing vocals.
  • Allegedly, the verse "closed the shop, sold the house, bought a ticket to the west coast; now he gives them a stand up routine in LA" refers to comedian Richard Lewis. Lewis is indeed native to Joel's stomping ground, born in New York City and raised in New Jersey.
  • A chunk of these lyrics - specifically the part about Richard Lewis - appear in British alternative rock band A's "Number One," which gets Joel a partial songwriting credit on that album.
  • This was Joel's seventh Billboard Top 40 hit. And a bit of trivia, since Elton John is the other famous piano-playing rocker, let it be known that of the two, Elton was the first with a Top-40 single. Elton's "Your Song" in 1970 beat out Joel's "Piano Man" in 1974.
  • More about Bosom Buddies: Originally conceived by producers as the male counterpart to Laverne & Shirley, it had Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari as a pair of roommates whose apartment burns down, so they decide to go stay at a women-only hotel because the rent is cheap. They dodge the women-only requirement by dressing in drag.

    As if that doesn't sound contrived enough, the hotel in Bosom Buddies is named the "Susan B. Anthony Hotel," named after the famous women's-rights activist. Susan B. Anthony was also the subject of the famous Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, which was actively being minted in the years 1979-1981 right when Bosom Buddies was airing, with a revival mintage in 1999. Aspiring coin collectors take note: The coin was unpopular due to its size, making it often mistaken for a quarter by vending machines. In fact, it was so unpopular that it never saw much circulation. To this day it isn't very profitable to collect even mint specimens of Susan Bs, as every collector has rolls of them which are still worth about a dollar.
  • Tom Hanks poked fun at himself in a 2011 episode of the show 30 Rock when he explains that anyone working in TV must come off the A-list, then proceeds to sing some of this song.
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Comments: 17

  • George from Vancouver, CanadaSo his guy phones him up & says he's starting a new life in California, then launches right into telling the guy not to say anything about it? That seems more like what you'd say if the guy called you to say you're making a mistake. . . The story doesn't seem to make sense here.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 4th 1979, Billy Joel* performed on the final day of the three-day 'Havana Jam' festival at the Karl Marx Auditorium in Havana, Cuba...
    At the time he had two records on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; "Big Shot" at #21 and "My Life" at #93, and that was its 19th and last week on the Top 100...
    "My Life" had peaked at #3 {for 3 weeks} on the Top 100, while "Big Shot" reached #14 {for 2 weeks} and stayed on the chart for 11 weeks...
    * It was the first time in more than 20 years that an American artist had performed in Cuba; other American artists at the festival were Stephen Stills, Kris Kristofferson, Rita Coolidge, and Weather Report.
  • Scott from Dallas, TxContrary to popular belief, Richard Lewis himself has contacted Billy Joel and confirmed that the lyric about an "old friend" is not a reference to him.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 31st 1978, "My Life" by Billy Joel peaked at #3 (for 3 weeks) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it had entered the chart on October 29th and spent 19 weeks on the Top 100...
    It also reached #3 in Canada and on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart it peaked at #2...
    Was track one on side one of his 1978 album '52nd Street'; and on November 12th the album reached #1 (for 8 non-consecutive weeks) on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart...
    And this coming May 9th Mr. Joel will be come eligible for Medicare, for on that day he'll be celebrating his 65th birthday.
  • B.l. from Barry, TxBertie Higgins sang the version used as the theme for "Bosom Buddies." He had a hit in the 70s "Key Largo" followed by another Bogart film-inspired ditty, "Casablanca."
  • Joe from New Richmond, WiI've always been curious about what 's going on at the very end of the song...it sounds like he is retching! Any ideas?
  • Jennifer Harris from Grand Blanc, MiAnother one of my favorite Billy Joel songs from a tv show,Bosom Buddies,I should get that on dvd.
  • John from Luton, United KingdomOn wikipedia it states that this song was written about Richard Lewis (Curb Your Enthsiasm)
  • Ken from Louisville, KyThere is a story I heard that Billy got the idea for the first verse from reading an article about a group of young people who left good paying jobs across the U.S. to make it as comedians in the L.A. clubs. One of those mentioned in the article was David Letterman.
  • Tony from Chicago, IlWonderful song, nice message about a breakup and independence.
  • George from Middlefield, Ohit says in the songfacts that it was a soundalike singing the intro to bosom buddies, if I'm not mistaken it was actually the cast from the show singing it and it was Tom Hanks doing the main lead in the song.
  • John from Stamford, CtI didn't see a lot of the other good songs he made on the site's list and don't know how to get it submitted, but a song that has a catchy tune and I like to listen to is "Don't Ask Me Why".
    I always listen to that and my life back to back.
  • Soutiman from Mumbai, IndiaGreat catchy song. One of my favourite Billy Joel songs (other than Piano Man)
  • Lagan from Vineyard Haven, MaI always thought this song was about the singer not caring about the guy moving to LA. The part about who he can and can't sleep with I thought was Billy's prediction of what the people would say to him once the guy got there.
    But, misunderstandings aside, awesome song.
  • John from Fort Worth, TxI'm John and I "grew up" with Billy Joel's songs though, in my experience I only knew some of them as being sung by him. Billy Joel was a true and memorable songwriter. Lately here I have learned so much more, Thank You! John 45
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaI'm surprised there aren't more comments on this song. It so brilliantly describes the sexual issues of young folks establishing indoependence from their parents: "They will tell you you can't sleep alone in a strange place, then they'll tell you you can't sleep with somebody else. Ah, but sooner or later, you sleep in your own space. Either way, it's okay, you wake up with yourself. I don't need you to worry for me 'cause I'm alright. I don't want you to tell me it's time to come home. I don't care what you say anymore, this is my life. Go ahead with your own life and leave me alone." Yeah!
  • Mike from Kingston, PaMy best friend, a vocalist/pianist/tubist, preform this song a lot. We are doing a live performance at the end of May 2007 with a nine piece band. Drums, two pianos, vocals, guitar, bass (me), alto sax, three back up singers. One of my fav. songs from one of my fav. artists. So liberating.
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