Joel wrote this with Ronnie Spector in mind, which he talked about on The Howard Stern Show, where he also explained that it's written in a high key and challenging to sing - he had an easier time hitting those notes when he wrote the song. As for Spector, he was a big fan of her and loved the girl-group sound she exemplified. He met her a few times over the years, but only after he wrote the song.
Joel had recently moved from Los Angeles to New York, which helped inspire this song. He is from Long Island, and did not like life on the West Coast.
This was released in the US as the B-side to "I've Loved These Days" a month before it was put out as an A-side. Neither song charted, but in 1981, a live version recorded at the Milwaukee Arena was released on Joel's Songs In The Attic album and hit #17 in the US. Songs In The Attic was the first digitally-recorded live album.
Ronnie Spector, who was the inspiration for this song and leader of the popular girl group, The Ronettes, recorded this song in 1977. She said at the time: "In a way it's my life story 'cause I was married in Hollywood, I lived in Hollywood, my life fell apart in Hollywood and now I am saying goodbye to Hollywood."
Spector's version was produced by Little Steven Van Zandt, who she met while singing backup for Bruce Springsteen in 1976. Springsteen's E Street Band played backup for her.
Brad from FlA great couple of lines for when it's time to move on... "Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes."
Stormy from Kokomo, InCan I make a suggestion to all of you "singers" out there that have videos on YouTube and try to duplicate songs like this guy. STOPPPPP! PLEASEEEE! If you can't sing any better than this guy, just play the record or the album and leave off the video!
Ken from Louisville, KyBilly Joel said the song is misinterpreted as meaning that he hated Hollywood. He said he wrote it as fond farewell..."So long, Hollywood, I had a great time there, but it's time for me to go back home."
Ken from Louisville, KyThis is another song where Joel lets the concert crowd sing part of they lyrics instead of himself. After he sings "Say Goodybye to Hollywood" he leans towards the audience and waits for them to respond with "Say goodbye my baby".
Karen from La Crosse , WiThe live version can be found on Billy's album "Songs in the Attic". There's also a great version of Captain Jack on this album too.
Sculder from Berkshire, MaI always wondered this since I was a kid and it made more sense, at least in my head, with age. Anyway, do you think the Bobby and John he refers to were the Kennedy brothers? Please forgive me, I cant find lyrics, I got the cd but I'll do from memory and apologize beforehand for errors. "Johnny's taking care of things for a while/and his style blank trubidores/they got him sitting with his back to the door/ now he won't be my fast gun anymore" "Bobbbys driving through the city tonight /throught he lights in a hot new rent a car/joins the lovers in his heaven machine . . ." I see those verse as Hollywood images of John and Bobby,moreso or easier with 'Johnny'. And, well, like it or not and like them or not John and Bobby Kennedy are Hollywood images at least that's all they are to most people. I kinda always saw a bit of Joel aknowledging a goodbye(or time for one) of an Hollywood image in his own Hollywood image. Agh, I'm sure I have made a fool out of myself. Go ahead I deserve all comments its the price to live in my head.
Jr from Philadelphia, PaI remember Ronnie Spector talking about this song on a late night show(possibly rick dees into the night), and saying that it was written for her by Billy Joel and had to do with her"escaping" from Phil Spector because he was keeping her "captive" in their L.A. mansion.
Sunset from London, United StatesRonnie Spector was Phil Spector's Wife. Spector also produced Ronettes records.
Pete from Nowra, AustraliaPhil or Ronnie ????? come on ..make up your minds
Ken from Louisville, KyActually this is a tribute to Phil Sepctor and his famous "Wall Of Sound".
Gordon from Snyder, NyBette Midler covered this and did a great job with it.