Summer, Highland Falls

Album: Turnstiles (1976)
  • 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.


Be the first to comment...

Rickie Lee JonesSongwriter Interviews

Rickie Lee Jones on songwriting, social media, and how she's handling Trump.

Mike Scott of The WaterboysSongwriter Interviews

The stories behind "Whole Of The Moon" and "Red Army Blues," and why rock music has "outlived its era of innovation."

Victoria WilliamsSongwriter Interviews

Despite appearances on Carson, Leno and a Pennebaker film, Williams remains a hidden treasure.

Trucking Songs That Were #1 HitsSong Writing

The stories behind the biggest hit songs about trucking.

Spooner OldhamSongwriter Interviews

His keyboard work helped define the Muscle Shoals sound and make him an integral part of many Neil Young recordings. Spooner is also an accomplished songwriter, whose hits include "I'm Your Puppet" and "Cry Like A Baby."

Angelo Moore of FishboneSongwriter Interviews

Fishbone has always enjoyed much more acclaim than popularity - Angelo might know why.