Billy Joel: The Downeaster "Alexa" Meaning
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The Downeaster "Alexa" Lyrics
And I'm cruising through Block Island Sound
I have charted a course to the Vineyard
But tonight I am Nantucket bound
We took on diesel back in Montauk yesterday
And left this morning from the bell in...
anonymous Nov 13th, 11:37pm report
I think this is a solid song about putting others before yourself. They mentions bills and children yet he has his pleasurable boat. He uses the tool of his salvation (charted course for the vineyard) to help those he cares about.
this song drew the ire of many fishermen on long island as billy wrote the song as if he had experienced the life of a fisherman. much like goodnight saigon scored low with vietnam vets who were laying in mud while billy wrote the song from his long island mansion. a downeaster boat is more commonly known as a lobster type boat, the name being derived from the southern maine moniker downeaster. block island and nantucket are not very far from montauk point at the farthest eastern port on the island. the song basically is about how the warmer waters in the Atlantic ocean are forcing fishermen and lobster to go further and further north and east of long island near the southern coast of cape cod, Ma. most lobstermen have specific areas where only they are permitted to lower their cages and fishing nets often get caught in the cages. so further out into the atlantic they must go. if they have a good catch they must have plenty of ice to keep the fish fresh for the trip back to long island. with the advent of large commercial ships, the small business fisher/lobstermen can't make a decent living, are having their homes foreclosed. as they have no skills other than fishing and their pride won't let them quit, many live in poverty, and stongly feel billy joel has nothing in commonwith them! save the fact they all live on long island
More specifically, this song is about the decline of the fishing trade on Long Island, New York, where Billy Joel grew up.
A downeater is a type of boat, for anyone who didn't grasp that.
Fishing was always a big business on Long Island, but a host of problems have made it almost impossible for many fishermen there to make a living today.
First, much of the ocean around Long Island is heavily polluted, which means that many fish caught there cannot be sold legally. When Billy sings "they told me I can't sell no stripers," he means that, due to pollution, the government has banned the sale of striped bass caught off Long Island.
Second, the rise of suburbia has driven up the price of housing on Long Island. Working class people, increasingly, can't afford to own homes in the towns where their families have lived for generations. The captain in this song had to sell his house, to keep up payments on his boat.
The captain is proud of his job and vows to keep fishing as long as he can... but he sees that the fishing business may be doomed, in the long run.
Incidentally, Billy Joel's daughter's name is Alexa. Since many real-life fishermen name their boats after their wives or daughters, it makes sense that Billy's fictional fisherman would give his boat that name.
anonymous Jul 18th, 2012 7:39pm report
It's about the hard life and doubts/sorrows of a fisherman in the USA.
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