Billy Joel – Say Goodbye To Hollywood

I missed this song when it came out on Joel’s 1976 album Turnstiles but I earned about it later in 1981.

in the early eighties I joined Columbia House I ordered Billy Joel’s album Songs in the Attic. I ordered it right after I purchased his album Glass Houses at a record shop. This song really caught my attention, and I became a fan of Joel that year.

This was released in the US as the B-side to “I’ve Loved These Days” a month before it was put out as an A-side single. Neither song charted. In 1981, a live version recorded at the Milwaukee Arena was released on Joel’s Songs In The Attic album. It peaked at #17 in the Billboard 100 and #27 in Canada.

Joel’s influence was The Ronettes, specifically their song “Be My Baby. Joel was a big fan of ’60s girl groups and loved both Phil Spector’s production and Ronettes lead singer Ronnie Spector’s voice. Joel met Ronnie a few times over the years, but only after he wrote the song.

When he wrote this song, Joel had recently moved from Los Angeles to New York, which helped inspire it. He didn’t care for the west coast.

Ronnie Spector, who was the influence on this song, released her own version in 1977. Her version was produced by Little Steven and was backed by The E Street Band.

Ronnie Spector: “In a way it’s my life story ’cause I was married in Hollywood, I lived in Hollywood, my life fell apart in Hollywood and now I am saying goodbye to Hollywood.”

From Songfacts

This song is a look at the temporary nature of most relationships, as people are always coming in and out of our lives. It’s told through the eyes of two characters, Bobby (in the first verse) and Johnny (in the second). They do their time in Hollywood, but now find themselves moving on with their lives, a natural progression in the series of hellos and goodbyes in life.

On The Howard Stern Show, Joel explained that he wrote “Say Goodbye To Hollywood” in a high key that was challenging to sing – he had an easier time hitting those notes when he wrote the song.

Say Goodbye To Hollywood

Bobby’s driving through the city tonight
Through the lights
In a hot new rent-a-car
He joins the lover in his heavy machine
It’s a scene down on Sunset Boulevard

[Chorus: ]
Say goodbye to Hollywood
Say goodbye my baby
Say goodbye to Hollywood
Say goodbye my baby

Johnny’s taking care of things for awhile
And his style is so right for Troubador’s
They got him sitting with his back to the door
Now he won’t be my fast gun anymore

[Chorus: ]

Moving on is a chance that you take every time you try to stay together
Say a word out of line and you find that the friends you had are gone
So many faces in and out of my life
Some will last, some will just be now and then
Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes
I’m afraid it’s time for goodbye again

[Chorus: ]

(Repeat 3rd verse)

[Chorus: ]