Summer, Highland Falls

Album: Turnstiles (1976)
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Songfacts®:

  • A track from Billy Joel's fourth album, "Summer, Highland Falls" is about manic depression. He wrote it in 1975 during a transitional period in his life when he was moving back to New York after spending the previous three years in California. At a Howard Stern town hall event in 2014, Joel explained: "It was more about manic depression than depression. That song was about a relationship that wasn't really working out. It was very disappointing - you want everything to work out and when it doesn't, how do you deal with that?"
  • Joel wrote the music to reflect the highs and lows of manic depression. The song has a musical piano theme: the left hand plays the "depression" part, going slowly up and down, while the right hand is the "manic" part, playing a bouncy bit. "It actually describes manic depression in the music," says Joel.
  • Many yearbooks have been filled with the opening lines to this song:

    They say that these are not the best of times
    But they're the only times I've ever known


    It's a very unusual song in that the title doesn't appear in the lyric and there's no chorus. This limited its hit potential, but the song has endured as a favorite for many of Joel's ardent fans.
  • Highland Falls is the village in the southern part of New York State where Joel lived at the time.

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