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My Life By Billy Joel

52nd Street

1978 | Rock

Spotify | Amazon

"I don't need you to worry for me 'cause I'm alright. -- I don't want you to tell me it's time to come home. -- I don't care what you say anymore this is my life, -- Go ahead with your own life leave me alone."

Trivia

  • Reached #2 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and #3 on the Hot 100 chart.
  • The backing vocals were sung by Chicago members Peter Cetera and Donnie Dacus.
  • The song was re-recorded with a different vocalist for use as the theme song to Bosom Buddies. Due to licensing issues it's not included on the VHS, DVD or syndication airings.

THE HOT TAKES

Luke Tatum

Ah, the splendid assertion of individualism! This is a good, strong, squared-shoulders stand for the right of the single human. A man who didn't quite make it in business, who in some sense failed and retreated, has had enough of being told what to do. This is a great, healthy mindset! Failure is not the end, after all. The entrepreneur sometimes has to fail many, many times to get things right. It's not clear who the other person in the song is...perhaps a lover, perhaps a parent, perhaps the state. But whoever it is, they are doing a lot of unwanted moralizing. Our narrator will have none of it: "I don't care what you say anymore, this is my life; Go ahead with your own life, leave me alone!" There is one particular part of the song that seems to be about police and/politicians, as well: "They will tell you you can't sleep alone in a strange place," which brings to mind rules that many large cities have restricting where the homeless can live. "Then they'll tell you you can't sleep with somebody else," perhaps references the many laws out there regarding what individuals can and can't do in the bedroom. All in all, our protagonist here never claimed to be a "victim of circumstance." He took some risks, and isn't afraid of the downsides of that. He's just going to go on living his life. Won't you let him?

Sherry Voluntary

This song is primarily about asserting your independence from the nannies and naysayers in life, that’s pretty obvious. Also within the song, but a little less directly is the allusion to what I think is the real American dream. Opportunity. “Closed the shop, sold the house bought a ticket to the west coast. Now he gives them a standup routine in LA.” Opportunity to better your life by changing it is one of the reasons that so many people have and still come to the United States. Even with all of the rights violations of the system and not having a truly free market, at this point, there is still enough freedom, and enough economic opportunity for people to choose the course they see fit to better their lives. Libertarian values are about giving the most liberty to individuals to choose the path that suits them to make their way in the world. What the U.S. needs is not more controls on the market or equality legislation, but to unleash the market and people to live out their dreams, and pursue their own interests. These things would make for more prosperity and peace, and therefore better quality of life for people.

Nicky P

We can all safely assume Joel was referencing some friends he had in the east village at the time because that’s pretty much how all Billy Joel songs of that era worked. These little tales enlighten how something we understand without question on an individual basis can be so grossly misunderstood in regards to people on the whole. We all have no trouble accepting that we are not justified in telling someone else how to live their life and even laud their ability to tell others to buzz off...at least until it’s a group telling the individual how to live. I’m not sure what makes this particular line of demarcation make sense to some people but, alas, it does. I wish the lyrics perhaps mentioned all the things NYC tells you you’re not allowed to possess or mentioned how much of your money you’re allowed to keep. Clearly when it’s not just two people in an interactionan they can “vote” your life to be the way they wish it to be and it changes in moral character? Obviously as libertarians we think that’s ludicrous and morality doesn’t change with the participants involved. Wisdom might change the quality of information a party can give, but authority is something not to be arbitrarily assumed. In closing whether singular or plural, it’s my life. Worry about your own life leave me alone.

Created By
Nicky P
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