The Downeaster "Alexa" Lyrics - Billy Joel

Review The Song (69)



Well I'm on the Downeaster "Alexa"
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 Gardiner's Bay
Like all the locals here I've had to sell my home
Too proud to leave I worked my fingers to the bone

So I could own my Downeaster "Alexa"
And I go where the ocean is deep
There are giants out there in the canyons
And a good captain can't fall asleep

I've got bills to pay and children who need clothes
I know there's fish out there but where God only knows
They say these waters aren't what they used to be
But I've got people back on land who count on me

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So if you see my Downeaster "Alexa"
And if you work with the rod and the reel
Tell my wife I am trawling Atlantis
And I still have my hands on the wheel

Now I drive my Downeaster "Alexa"
More and more miles from shore every year
Since they tell me I can't sell no stripers
And there's no luck in swordfishing here.

I was a bayman like my father was before
Can't make a living as a bayman anymore
There ain't much future for a man who works the sea
But there ain't no island left for islanders like me






Click here to submit the Corrections of The Downeaster "Alexa" Lyrics
Thanks, Dad | Reviewer: Elizabeth | 6/18/14

Unlike some of the other people, I came across this song through my father, and not The Hangover 2. I've listened to it countless times, even now as I write this. What I love about my iPod, though, is that it's sorted by name, so right after this song is The Dragon's Breath, which is purely instrumental and very Celtic sounding.

Alexa | Reviewer: Mari O'Neill | 4/10/14

Love this song.....it means different things to different people......I am a long islander and to me it means the difficulty the fishermen have had to deal with......so sad!!! Billy Joel has always had a soft spot for the fisherman and this song is truly his way of expressing his concern......it is heartfelt and you know he has thoughts for these people. His way of sharing is to write a song about it. Every time I hear this song, it brings tears to my eyes. Having grown up in a fishing village (Freeport) I understand the pain and anguish these fisher people feel. Too sad but love that he saw an issue and expressed it.

Why can't we all just... get along? | Reviewer: The Graystar | 3/12/14

So yeah, I live in Darwin, Australia, and have been fishing only a handful of times in my life. Not a fan (of fishing) to be honest with you all.
But this song speaks to me as a man, not as a fisherperson.
And the places, regardless of whether they're real, fictional, mythological or allegorical, give a real sense of grounding to the listener; it's a real experience regardless of whether you've 'been to the places' he sings about.
I think the folks who are arguing black and blue about contextual accuracies have lost some sight of the storytelling that music is. Not all of Joel's songs are even factual - he openly acknowledges this in songs such as "Goodnight Saigon". Having never been to war, he wrote about the experience nonetheless. So whether this song is grounded fully in geographical accuracies are moot arguments in my opinion, especially to someone like me who will likely never set foot on Long Island.
But does that mean the song has less meaning to me than it does for a Long Island local? If you believe that, then you really underestimate the power of poetry, art, songwriting, etc. This song speaks to me on many levels, and not one of them has anything to do with fishing striped bass or swordfish.
To the poster who asked if this song is on any of his albums, the answer is yes. It's on the 'Storm Front' album - an album that is quite literally awash with nautical themes (as well as war, isolation, broken hearts and the general state of the world today).
So whether you're from Long Island or Darwin or Phucket, this song has every right to mean something to you. And if you've never been to Long Island, then this song by proxy will mean something different to you than it will for a Long Island local. But please people - let's not mistake a geographical location for enlightenment. If we start doing that, then I won't be able to sing 'Carolina in my mind' by James Taylor anymore, as I've never been there either... but that doesn't mean I don't want to go there in my mind, especially when singing James Taylor songs of the same name!

Just a quick note/comment | Reviewer: Hannah | 3/3/14

I scrolled down to read the comments and interpretations of the lyrics to this incredible song. Naturally, I expect that people will argue over silly things - that their interpretation is the 'correct' one etc.
Interpretations are based off an individuals experience of the song, as well as their knowledge about the context of the song. They are specific to an individual and are more than often given to enlighten others and encourage discussion.
Please don't put other people down by making fun of their intellect; a judgement based off a small entry on a website regarding an amazing song. You make me worry for humanity.
On the other hand.. how everyone else has handled these people is astonishing. Kudos to all of you. So much diffusion of anger and understanding. Hope is restored in humanity.
Anyway. I just felt like sharing that with everyone. My partner loves this song - he played it in the car on a roadtrip the other week, and I instantly fell for it. Apparently it is possible to fall for songs. It's funny that as a huge Billy Joel fan, I hadn't heard it before..
Billy Joel, making people feel things they didn't know they could feel since forever.

Just Damn Good | Reviewer: Anonymous | 10/9/13

billey joel. he is amazing voice cintainar. i heard this song while watchin hangover 2. i guess it was got my ear just 1st time. i love this song. i think this fictional bayman is dead as.. "there's no island like islanders like me" part. this song got my soul consantraited

You are all somewhat right | Reviewer: Lori | 9/2/13

Here's the Wikipedia version: http: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Downeaster_Alexa
It's hard to believe everyone can get so crazy over the meaning of a song. Just enjoy it for what it is. A beautifully written song, by a truly great Artist.

One of his sweetest songs ever! | Reviewer: nratched | 8/30/13

I know nothing of fishing (grew up in the dried up hellhole Tucson) but this song sings to my soul, much as Piano Man. Gutsy, bittersweet and soulful, I've searched a long time and want You all to share with me.. Is it on any if his recordings? I LOVE this song!

Long Island Rules :) | Reviewer: ken O | 8/16/13

I have lived on Long Island all my life, so it will always be home for me no matter where i may roam. What Billy sings about is true, year after year the fishing industry dies off more. Reasons for this are many, including excessive commercial fishing, laws that only allow fish to be kept that are of a certain minimum size, environment changes, over population and the list go on and on. Over all awesome song. Strong Island Forever. :-)

Confession | Reviewer: ACG | 7/31/13

Like others, I too was watching Hangover II, when suddenly, the song caught my ears. I immediately hit the net and downloaded the song. Since then, I have been invigorated by it. The lyrics almost bring tears to my eyes. One of the best rock songs ever. I myself being a rock lover is ashamed to admit I never heard of this song, though I am a big Billy Joel fan and have listened to 'Piano Man' over a hundred times.

A gem. Truly.

Doesn't anyone have Google? | Reviewer: David | 5/24/13

A little research shows the "Downeaster Alexa" is a boat Billy Joel owned when the song was written. A downeaster named the Alexa Ray after his daughter. He was very passionate about this issue and was arrested at a striped bass regulation protest in the '90's. He has stated the song is about that regulation killing a way of life. They are trawling Atlantis Canyon for literal giants, he's describing a regular route on his overnight fishing trips with his captain Tom who refused to sleep when they went out. Funny how people get so worked up and insult others and it turns out they don't even know what they're talking about.

Powerful song | Reviewer: Matt | 5/10/13

I stumbled on this gem while watching Hangerover 2 also! However, I am reading The Perfect Storm by Sabastian Junger. A fantastic book, made into a movie of course, that does a superb job of giving orientation and history of this area and difficulties of life in the fishing industry.

Wow | Reviewer: Corey | 4/7/13

Anyone who gets this upset over the lyrics of a song needs some anger management. Let the lyrics mean what the listener wants to imagine. And stop bashing people's view of the song...you know who you are.

Really, it is a song... | Reviewer: Bobby | 4/2/13

I am ashamed to admit how I discovered this gem. My son made me watch hangover 2. This song came on. I instantly loved it. I used Shazam to uncover if title.

I love the energy and pride in the melody. It just flies or more appropriately sails. The lyrics are another brilliant piece from Billy Joel. Like several of his work it tells a vivid tale.

Giants | Reviewer: Andrew | 3/12/13

Anyone consider that the Giants he refers to might have multiple meanings? Every good poet and lyricist does this. The obvious giants are the swordfish and tuna he seeks after his striper were banned. The giant waves, and- in winter- icebergs, are dangers to contend with. Most of all, the men who take small boats into deep water to fish are giants, and he celebrates their bravery and work ethic.

A thought: just because you are right does not mean you have the only answer. Downeaster is a kind of boat, but the name was re-used. The 1800s Downeaster is no longer used, but the modern one is. It may be wood or fiberglass. Insulting someone does not make you right.

Working man's ballad | Reviewer: Shedevil | 3/2/13

This is a great song that truly sings to the souls of any working man, not just the fishermen. It's about the fickleness of life, the hardships and the struggle to provide for a family and doing whatever you can to make ends meet above the obstacles that always seem to come up. The weight of that responsibility and how it weighs on them.


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------ Performed by Billy Joel

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------ 07/29/2014

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