Where's The Orchestra?

Album: The Nylon Curtain (1982)
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Songfacts®:

  • Since this was the final song on the album, Joel ended it with a few instrumental bars from "Allentown," similar to how Paul McCartney added a few bars of "Band On The Run" at the end of "Ninteen Hundred and Eight Five." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Ken - Louisville, KY
  • In a 2016 interview with Sirius XM, Joel called described this as an allegorical song about "a man who goes into adulthood expecting life to be a musical show and recognizing that no, it's a play, and there's not always going to be a lot of music and dancing it. It could be tragic, it could be tragic-comic. It's using theater as metaphor."
  • The songs on The Nylon Curtain ranged from sociopolitical ("Allentown," "Goodnight Saigon") to philosophical ("Scandinavian Skies," "Where's The Orchestra?"), which were not the hallmarks for a hit, according to Joel's record label, which thought the album was "too strange and impressionistic" to be commercially successful.

    While it wasn't his biggest moneymaker, the album earned a double-Platinum certification by the RIAA for 2 million copies sold.

Comments: 4

  • Brian from MilwaukeeI have no specific evidence to back this up but I'm convinced that the song is in part a tribute to Harry Nilsson. The phrasing, the style and the melodic and harmonic progression are so like Nilsson. I also think that it's placed at the end of the album as a statement. This album more than any other is so unlike Billy Joel's previous material I imagine this song a s way of recognizing (and maybe even satirizing people who bought the album, listened to it expecting something else and saying "Wait a minute, this isn't Billy Joel." Just my take.
  • Richard from Stone Harbor, NjI forgot to mention how forgotten the song is under the piles of his other stuff. It's a friggin' great song.
  • Richard from Somerdale , NjThis song kinda made The Nylon Curtain similar to The Stranger (album) because it revisits the main song in the end. It differs because at the end of Everybody Has a Dream, it is an almost direct copy of the intro to The Stranger (song), and in Where's the Orchestra?, it is a much slower and more peaceful version of Allentown and not a direct copy.
  • Nikki from Ny, FlMy interpretation is, it's a sad outlook upon life in general at this moment in Billy's life, as many of us go through at least once.
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