A Song That Makes You Fall Asleep: ‘And So It Goes,’ Billy Joel (1989)

Maybe I’ll finish this “30 Day” song challenge before I die. 50/50 chance. Since it’s been a minute, I thought it wise to revisit the first nine spots on this challenge:

And now I see why my activity came to a screeching halt. “A Song That Makes You Fall Asleep?” Really? First of all, I can rarely nod off in 4-ish minutes. Secondly, isn’t this sort of a back-handed compliment? So I’m going rogue and choosing to believe this means a song during which I feel peaceful. Serene. Ready for Shavasana.

Admittedly I didn’t think about this long and hard, and perhaps I could come up with a better answer if I did. But the first song that popped into my head was “And So It Goes,” the last track on Billy Joel’s 1989 album Storm Front, although I’ve read he wrote it several years before that (about an apparently rocky relationship with Elle Macpherson. Ehhh? Always with the younger gals, hashtag KATIE LEE .)

Anyway. The lyrics are certainly melancholy and the melody, though technically in a major key, is laden with heavy sadness. It’s spare, needing nothing but a single piano track and Billy’s baritone at its most vulnerable.

And yet … not that simple.

In my days as a mediocre piano player, I purchased the sheet music for the Storm Front album and learned to play this track as written. But sheet music can’t capture the stutter-step hesitation of the chord progression that no metronome can contain. Joel’s inarguably a master at the keys, as evidenced by “Angry Young Man” and other showcases, but nuanced pieces such as “And So It Goes” also demonstrate his virtuosity.

Joel isn’t afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve and infuse real depth into his lyrics, no matter the subject (“We Didn’t Start the Fire” notwithstanding). The vulnerability captured in this 3:53 track is no exception. “You can have this heart to break.” So basic, so poignant.

But does it make me sleepy? No. Namaste.


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