Allentown Lyrics - Billy Joel
Review The Song (12)
Well we're living here in Allentown
And they're closing all the factories down
Out in Bethlehem they're killing time
Filling out forms
Standing in line.
Well our fathers fought the Second World War
Spent their weekends on the Jersey Shore
Met our mothers at the USO
Asked them to dance
Danced with them slow
And we're living here in Allentown.
But the restlessness was handed down
And it's getting very hard to staaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay
aaaaaaah aaahhhhh ooooooooh ooooooh ohhhhhhh.
Well we're waiting here in Allentown
For the Pennsylvania we never found
For the promises our teachers gave
If we worked hard
If we behaved.
So the graduations hang on the wall
But they never really helped us at all
No they never taught us what was real
Iron and coke,
And we're waiting here in Allentown.
But they've taken all the coal from the ground
And the union people crawled awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah aaaaaaaaaaah aaaaaah.
Every child had a pretty good shot
To get at least as far as their old man got.
but something happened on the way to that place
They threw an American flag in our face, oh oh oh.
Well I'm living here in Allentown
And it's hard to keep a good man down.
But I won't be getting up todaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy
aaaaaaaaaaah aaaaaaaaaaah aaaaaaaaah.
aaaaaaah aaaaaaah aaaaaaah oh oh oh.
And it's getting very hard to staaaaaaaaaaaaaay.
And we're living here in Allentown.
Writer: JOEL, BILLY
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
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Thanks to Jason Rosenbaum for submitting Allentown Lyrics.
From a Konkrete Kid | Reviewer: David | 12/29/13
After spending the first year of my life on S. 13th Street in Allentown, my family moved to Northampton where I grew up. Before I graduated from high school in 1962, I saw the brightest and the best leaving the Lehigh Valley. During the summer of 1968 when I was in grad school, I worked as a grinder in the Fab Shop at Bethlehem Steel. Unions were pushing for a 13-week vacation for those with seniority. As the Japanese were already starting to undercut our price of steel, I knew that was foolhardy. Before long, I learned the "4 R's" of education for us Lehigh Valley folks: "Readin', writin', 'rithmetic and Route 309 south to Philly and beyond.
Meaningful | Reviewer: Gary, Chester, UK | 12/20/13
Always loved this Billy Joel song. Don't need to be in Allentown or even in America to understand that it's message resonates as a fable of modern decline in tough economic times?
Plucky | Reviewer: Ferris | 5/1/13
i came from allentown & know it was silk mills, not steel. i heard the song in a gym while visiting my sister in PA a couple of decades after i left for the west coast. people all over bethlehem, allentown, emmaus and many other nearby towns worked in the steel mills and suffered greatly. always loved billy joel, music, lyrics, all of it. checking out those lyrics more closely, i see where my pluck came from! next time someone comments on it, i'll tell them to check out those lyrics.
LIFE IN THE USA | Reviewer: ABUTOM | 3/13/13
OUR FATHERS FOUGHT IN WWII. ALL THE MILLS WERE RUNNING FULL CAPACITY. THEN THE GREEN PEACE COMMUNISTS AND THE EPA HOUNDED ALL THE FACTORIES AWAY. NO REBUILD AND CLEAN UP MONEY. ONLY FINES.
NOW THE FACTORIES ARE IN CHINA POLLUTING THE WORLD. SOON THEY WILL BE RUNNING THE WORLD. THE GREATEST MILITARY POWER NEEDS INDUSTRIAL POWER. HE WHO RULES SPACE BECOMES THE MASTER RACE. BY 2014 CHINA WILL REMOVE THE AMERICAN FLAG FROM THE MOON AND BUILD A COLONY WITH OUR BUYING POWER. WE HANDED THEM EVERYTHING. MORE WEED SUCKERS? ALL WE HAVE LEFT IS A SKELETON CREW OF FREEDOM BEING SISSIFIED AND DEMORALIZED. WHEN WE FALL NO ONE WILL TAKE US IN. WWW.SPIRITOFAMERICAPARTYRADIOSHOW.COM
Modern Folk Song | Reviewer: Johnny G | 8/8/12
I remember listening to this song back in the early '80s when it first came out and it still hits home today, especially in light of the times.
The lyrics capture any type of economic downturn and its affect on the people who thought they'd have financial security, which is now an illusion.
Before going "pop" with the "An Innocent Man" album, Billy Joel wrote some really meaningful tunes like this. I miss that guy.
I think... | Reviewer: Just passing thru | 7/2/12
I've always loved the lyrics of this song but thought they should have been like this:
"But the restlessness was handed down
And it's getting very hard to stay around..."
"While the union people throw their weight around..."
LOVE this song!!! | Reviewer: Anonymous | 12/21/11
This was one of Billy Joel's early social justice songs that talked about the plight of the guys who counted on going down to the steel mill in their town and working a job for life that would put them solidly in the middle class and keep them there through retirement. Starting with the Reagan administration, union busting began in earnest and as a result, our manufacturing industries began moving offshore to far off places like China and India and it's stayed there ever since, essentially gutting the middle class of this country. The first time I heard this song I fell in love with its message and I still think that it resonates today. Powerful song, and one of my Billy Joel favorites of his long songwriting career.
Bethlehem Steel | Reviewer: Anonymous | 11/10/11
Billy actually saw first hand what all the people in Bethlehem (and the rest of the Lehigh Valley) were going through during the decline of Bethlehem Steel, while playing shows at colleges in The Valley. He only named it Allentown because obviously nothing rhymes with Bethlehem, haha.
Some ironies in the song Allentown | Reviewer: Jeff doty | 10/31/11
Allentown is a railroad town but not a mining or steelmaking town. Billy mentions Bethlehem in the lyrics. This was the site of a huge integrated mill (coke, coal, limestone and iron ore in and steel out). The anthracite mining area is to the north of Allentown by quite a few miles (Mt. Carmel, Mahanoy City, Jim Thorpe, and Tamaqua would be examples). I understand that the title was chosen as it sounds best in the song.
Silly Mayor | Reviewer: Bellhop | 8/8/11
Allentown Mayor Joe Dadonna, more gregarious than intelligent, presented Joel with the keys to the city and tried to get "Allentown" adopted as the "official song". Imagine: Your city's official song is about how it's going to hell. Allentown is Hispanic now. The sons of the steelworkers didn't stay.
good song | Reviewer: Allison | 7/8/11
He's talking about the industry leaving America. All the mill jobs left the east coast and a lot of people were unemployed. We're talking about good, hard working people that could always find steady work in the mills...
Interesting | Reviewer: April Boyer | 11/6/10
Well, I enjoy spending my free time writing reviews for songs on this website. Besides the point, I like this song, and the lyrics are really thought provoking. Did Billy know someone who worked in the mines? I know it was a really big hit for him back then.
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