Lion of the Blogosphere

Billy Joel – Falling of the Rain

You can listen to “Falling of the Rain” here on YouTube.

The intent of this post is not necessarily to write anything that my regular blog readers wanted to read, but for any fans of Billy Joel who find this page searching for the meaning of the song “Falling of the Rain,” a song that has enchanted me with its piano playing and long confused me with its lyrics.

Even though the internet is normally a vast repository of all sorts of useless information, what the internet lacks is a correct explanation of the meaning of this song. For example, this guy writes about the song, but he has no clue as to its true meaning.

Also, here is a very interesting video of Billy Joel quite recently playing part of the song in front of a live audience and treating it like it’s some horrible song that someone else wrote. The song represents a part of his life when he was practically still a kid that he wishes never happened.

And if you want to hear something really horrible, this is what the song sounded like on the original LP which was pressed at the wrong speed and made Billy Joel sound like a chipmunk. Another reason why Billy Joel hates that album and all of the songs on it.

* * *

“Falling of the Rain,” in the middle of Billy Joel’s Cold Spring Harbor album, was a mystery to me for a long time. All of the other songs on the album are about being in love, the pain of unrequited love, the even greater pain of being dumped by the person you love, suicidal thoughts after being dumped, and finally coming to grips with a horribly broken heart and getting back to life.

But in the middle of all this is a song which presents itself as fairy tale, on the surface having nothing to do with the rest of the album, yet the melody accompanying the lyrics seems to imply the same tragedy and loss that the rest of the album speaks to more directly.

The song his hard to understand because (1) the lyrics are not in chronological order; and (2) most of the song is a metaphor. The song begins:

Once upon a time, in the land of misty satin dreams
There stood a house and a man who painted nature scenes.
He painted trees and fields and animals and streams.
And he stayed and he didn’t hear the falling of the rain,
No, he didn’t hear the falling of the rain.

The first line suggests that the song is a fairy tale.

The second line introduces us to a man who’s a painter. The painter, a visual artist, is a stand-in for Billy Joel who is a musical artist.

Just as the artist paints nature, Billy Joel sings about the world. But in both cases, there’s an important aspect of the world that is not being fully experienced, and that is metaphorically referred to as “the rain.” The rain is a metaphor for romantic love, the true meaning of life.

Why is romantic love compared to rain, a thing which most people find unpleasant and a reason to stay indoors in order to avoid it? Rain is water falling from the sky. Water is a source of life. Without rain, there would be no trees, fields, animals or streams to paint. All would be a barren desert. And rain is something which just, all of a sudden, comes falling out of the sky, a gift from the heavens which you have no control over. Billy Joel, who recently experienced the feeling of being in love for the first time, must have felt that love was like that; the source of everything important, and something he had no control over.

As we will see from examining the rest of the song, there are multiple levels of experiencing “the rain.” In the first verse, Joel is able to see the rain but he doesn’t hear it.

Now for the second verse:

In the forest green lived a girl who put her hair in braids
And she sang as she walked all about the wooded glades.
She was glad when the rain came falling on her face.
And she sang, ’cause she did not mind the falling of the rain,
No, she didn’t mind the falling of the rain.

Although second, I believe that chronologically this happens shortly before the first stanza. The girl represents the first and only girl that Billy Joel ever felt true romantic love for. In real life that would be Elizabeth Weber, the wife of his bandmate. They had an affair which meant a lot more to Billy Joel than it did to Elizabeth. After she left him (as well as her husband), he tried to commit suicide. His suicidal thoughts are what the song “Tomorrow is Today,” later in the album, is about.

While the artist lives in a house somewhat removed from nature, the girls lives within the forest, fully experiencing life in a way that the artist is unable to. And she fully experiences “the rain” with all of her senses.

This impression that, for pretty women, life is easy, fun and carefree, while life is hard and difficult for emotionally sensitive men like Billy Joel, is also the main theme of the song “Everybody Loves You Now” earlier in the album.

I say that chronologically this verse takes place before the first verse because the girl has opened Billy Joel’s eyes to seeing “the rain”. He has completely fallen in love with her, the first time in his life he has experienced the feeling of love, but she doesn’t return the love, it’s just a minor fling for her, having some quick fun cheating on her husband. Thus he can see “the rain” but cannot experience it fully with all of his senses because she will not give him an exclusive totally committed relationship in which she returns the love he feels for her.

Will it always be the same as we recall?
Does it touch you when the rain begins to fall?
Ah, but I don’t want to know and I don’t want to see
Another rainy day without you lying next to me.

Above is the song’s chorus, which leaves the fairy tale and takes place in an imaginary future of the real world where rain is just rain, and Billy Joel is in a long-term relationship, presumably married, to a woman he’s in love with. In this imaginary future, a day of bad weather is a reason to be happy and contented that he’s able to spend it with the woman he loves who loves him back. Remember that Billy Joel is imagining the kind of relationship he wishes he could have, but he has never experienced in reality. He can only write about it in a song.

High upon a hill, far away from all the dusty crowd
Is a boy with his eyes on the ground, his head is bowed.
He’s a fool, and his mind is filled with hopeless dreams.
And he waits, but he will not see the falling of the rain,
No, he will not see the falling of the rain.

The above verse takes place chronologically at the beginning of the story. Before Billy Joel met the girl who he fell in love with, and before he’s an artist, he’s just a boy who’s a loner and shy around women, with dreams about being successful in the future, and dreams about girls which all heterosexual boys experience, but he has not yet experienced the feeling of being in love, thus he doesn’t even see “the rain.” Looking back, now knowing that love is the most important thing in the world (or so it seems to someone experiencing it for the first time), his past self seems like a fool for not understanding that.

So now the boy becomes the man who sits and paints all day,
But the girl with the braids in her hair has gone away.
And it seems that time has brought things to an end.
Nothing’s changed, ’cause you can’t stop the falling of the rain, No,
you can’t stop the falling of the rain.

And finally, the depressing ending to the song. This verse reveals that the boy and the artist are the same person. And the girl has left him; he is to be forever alone and sad, wiser than the boy but much less happy. “Time has brought things to an end. Nothing’s changed” echoes the themes from his suicidal song “Tomorrow is Today” in which life seems pointless, with no future and no past, just never-ending depression.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

May 12, 2016 at EDT pm

Posted in Music videos

25 Responses

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  1. Maybe Lion would want to comment on Billy Joel’s song “Until the Night” from the Glass Houses album. I’ve always felt it was special in that it was sensuous without being dirty or too erotic. What about “The Stranger”‘s song “Vienna” where he speaks of someone saying “though you can see when you’re wrong you know you can’t always see when you’re right.” We all know someone like this.

    JS will probably want to comment on “Scenes from an Italian restaurant” where Billy sings of two prole kids who married young and ended up divorced – Brenda and Eddie. Although the restaurant where they meet up later after the divorce is Italian, we aren’t told if the couple are guidos – only that they hung out with “greasers.”

    I saw Billy at the Garden in June of 1980. I found him unbelievably sexy back then. I even had an affair with an older man at that time because he looked something like Billy. But of course, this was before Gilbert Gottfried!


    May 12, 2016 at EDT pm

    • Billy Joel is a wannable guido, as with many Jews back in the day, who were the minorities residing in Italian neighborhoods.

      His song, “New York State of Mind” is no longer relevant in today’s social scene, with its millennial generation, who are in the process of eliminating all of its “native ethnic based elements” that characterizes so much of the Big Apple. They have overwhelmed and destroyed the uniqueness of the tri-state area of yesteryear, by enabling and supporting these uniform and universal conglomerates, such as Whole Foods and Starbucks, viewed by some, as part of the evolutionary process. Soon, we’ll find an eatery call GuidoGanic that serves organic, gluten free, Italian food. They however, have not yet eliminated any old school, rigid systems, that have kept this country from evolving.


      May 14, 2016 at EDT pm

      • And blacks who tend to vote liberal, are inherently the most conservative and laggard of groups. Even proles don’t eat as much garbage as they used to, while McDonald’s and the lower end fast food joints attract mostly blacks in their most profitable areas, who eat the same old crap for multi-generations. blacks are at the tail end of the evolutionary process.

        However, this is not good news, as much of America’s cities are dead end ghost towns, like a weed infested garden, with a few sprouts of pretty flowers.


        May 14, 2016 at EDT pm

    • You had sex with Gilbert Gottfried?


      May 14, 2016 at EDT pm

      • I wish! I only meant that I thought Billy was one of the sexiest guys around – until later when Gilbert did it for me. But let me write a little dialog that Gilbert might say in response to your question: ” Have sex with that crazy “Maryk?” What you are nuts? She’s a guido. I got a beautiful wife. Why would I start messin around with that shiksa for? I mean it’s like Frank Barone said on “Everybody loves Raymond,”, you got a problem with your woman you don’t go out and get another woman. Now all you got is two problems……

        I actually saw Gilbert perform live at a small club in Manhattan years ago. And no, I didn’t go backstage to meet him.


        May 15, 2016 at EDT am

      • I wish!

        A TruCon with such thoughts!

        Shanda, as Yakov would say.


        May 15, 2016 at EDT am

  2. I used to love this song, and listen to it on a cassette in a walkman. Interested tidbit: Billy Joel hated the way it was mixed, and complained that the tape speed to was too fast (I.e. his voice is higher than it was recorded). The whole record is like that.


    May 12, 2016 at EDT pm

  3. More than any other one thing, one-itis may be the true downfall of the beta male.

    Some Guy

    May 12, 2016 at EDT pm

  4. I’ve listened to this album. Billy Joel is pretty emo compared to the cocky jerk he would later become.

    Living in a small city beset by a heroin epidemic, I have newfound appreciation for “Captain Jack” knowing that it’s about a heroin deal.


    May 12, 2016 at EDT pm

  5. I had never heard the song, but I read your analysis before clicking on the link and listening to it. The quick pace surprised me. It feels rushed. I think it would work better if he slowed it down.


    May 12, 2016 at EDT pm

  6. Lion, nicely done post, but a total waste. Sexual attraction is about procreation, not romantic love. It’s fine to experience ‘the feelings’ as long as you know that kids are the real thing, everything else is secondary.

    Cheating with your partner’s wife is romantic love? So this guy can teach us something about love? This is ridiculous. He should have been killed by the husband. A pitty he wasn’t. A guy that glorifies cheating with his partner’s wife should have his throat slit.

    I’d never heard of him until today and am not gonna listen to his song. Stupid songs, stupid lives that lead to the self extermination and the loss of the evolutionary battle.

    I was fed up with posts about Trump and elections, but this post is a waste, a total waste. It illustrates what’s wrong with you and the Western culture. Yesterday was Israel’s day of Independence, this was something for a Jew to blog about, not glorification of adultery.

    Just think of how evil these bastard are. Say you fall in love with your partner’s wife. OK, so why can’t people divorce, explain the situation to the ex after giving him a few months to process the divorce and then go public. No, this wouldn’t be romantic love, they are so swept off their feet, they just cannot control their feeling and emotions. Wow! Judaism is right again: capital punishment for both! This is the word if G-d!


    May 13, 2016 at EDT am

    • You need to tell this to Billy Joel, not me.

      • You are the one who is wowed about it to the point of blogging. You put quite an effort into this post. So I’m talking to you, Bill Joel was baptized, he isn’t on my radar screen. He is a dinosaur.


        May 13, 2016 at EDT am

      • Billy Joel is a great musician, and under-appreciated by intellectuals.

      • What’s an intellectual?


        May 13, 2016 at EDT am

      • Yakov would enjoy listening to Downeaster Alexa. It’s a song about proles in the fishing business out in Long Island. Fishmongers, who are a dying breed – who work hard for their familes, but are losing the evolutionary battle, because of the establishment to take it away from them.


        May 13, 2016 at EDT pm

    • You never HEARD of Billy Joel until today?!


      May 13, 2016 at EDT pm

      • NEVER.


        May 15, 2016 at EDT pm

  7. The song has been taken down. Here is another link

    Billy Joel reminds me of these young athletes who come out of college not knowing how to manage money and get Ripp-ed off left and right. He at least was able to make it back.


    May 13, 2016 at EDT am

    • Thank you for the new link.

      Billy Joel didn’t become successful until several years after this album, which then was remastered after he became successful and people wanted to hear his older stuff.

      • The other person who Ripp-ed Joel off was Weber’s brother Frank. Billy sued him for $90 million in 1989.


        May 13, 2016 at EDT pm

  8. Nicely done.


    May 13, 2016 at EDT am

  9. ‘Will it always be the same as we recall?
    Does it touch you when the rain begins to fall?
    Ah, but I don’t want to know and I don’t want to see
    Another rainy day without you lying next to me.’

    This guy is an idiot. You are supposed to work, not lye around with a girl by day! You earn a living for your family, study useful things and go to gym by day. At night when the work is done, gym is closed and you are tired, then you go into your bed. What a degenerate! Who cares about these stupid so go already? What a waste!


    May 13, 2016 at EDT am

    • I plan to have tens of thousands of descendants by 2300. In the 70s one of my first girlfriends decided her favorite song was Just the Way You Are because Billy Joel reminded her of me! Thank you Billy that was a mitzvah my friend! I rarely pray for celebrities I have too many non-celebrities who I think are super special and need my prayers but tonight I will pray for Billy Joel that one day when there are tens of thousands of my descendants roaming the world Billy Joel may have thousands!!!

      Borgnine replies to Yakov

      May 13, 2016 at EDT pm

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