Meaning of Honesty by Billy Joel & The Story Behind

The composition Honesty from the album 52nd Street is not among the most famous hits of the American pianist and singer-songwriter Billy Joel. It is not even included in all editions of the official collection of the best works of the musician. But still, this is a wonderful ballad, which every lover of truly high-quality and soulful music simply must listen to.

The story of the creation of the song Honesty

Billy wrote the lyrics and melody for Honesty himself. He worked on it in the usual style: first he composed the music, and then set about the text. The working title of the composition was Home Again, but the author did not stop looking for a better option. The word “honesty” was inspired by a joke from a colleague, Liberty DeVitto. Here’s what Joel said on The Howard Stern Show:

I didn’t have the right word for it, so my drummer started humming: “Sodomy, sodomy [содомия]… such a lonely word.” That’s when I had to quickly come up with some text.

Meaning of Honesty by Billy Joel

The main idea of ​​the ballad seems obvious. This is a song about how rare sincere relationships are in our false world, where honesty is harder to find than passion, friendship or even love.

However, Ken Beelen, author of The Words and Music of Billy Joel, tends to understand the meaning of the composition more broadly:

Honesty is a demand for truth, not only in romantic relationships, but also from politicians who influence our lives.

Release and achievements

In 1979, Honesty was released as the third single from the 52nd Street album. The record was produced by Phil Ramone.

Video of Honesty – Billy Joel

Below you can watch the online video clip for the track by Billy Joel.

The song performed well on the charts. She climbed to number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100. In addition, she hit the top 40 charts in many other countries.

Versions of the song Honesty

In 2008, a cover version of the composition was presented to the public by Beyoncé. I suggest watching the Honesty music video performed by her.

Interesting Facts

  • Billy Joel sang Honesty several times with Elton John. He also performed it with Bryan Adams.
  • The song has been certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of Japan for over 100,000 ringtone downloads.

Honesty Lyrics by Billy Joel

If you search for tenderness
It isn’t hard to find
You can have the love you need to live
But if you look for truthfulness
You might just as well be blind
It always seems to be so hard to give

Honesty is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Honesty is hardly ever heard
And most of what I need from you

I can always find someone
To say they sympathize
If I wear my heart out on my sleeve
But I don’t want some pretty face
to tell me pretty lies
All I want is someone to believe

I can find a lover
I can find a friend
I can have security
Until the bitter end
Anyone can comfort me
With promises again
I know, I know

When I’m deep inside of me
Don’t be too concerned
I won’t ask for nothin’ while I’m gone
But when I want sincerity
Tell me where else can I turn
Because you’re the only one that I depend on

Lyrics of Honesty by Billy Joel Alternate

If you’re looking for tenderness
She’s not hard to find
You can find the love you need to live
But if you’re looking for truth
Maybe it’s better for you to be blind
Seems like it’s always so hard to give

Sincerity is such a lonely word
Everyone around is so unreliable
Sincerity is almost unheard of,
But that’s what I need from you

I can always find the one
Who will sympathize with me
If I don’t hide my feelings
But I don’t need just a pretty face
Telling me pretty lies
I need someone I can trust

I can find a mistress
I can find a girlfriend
I can be safe
Until the end of life
Can someone console me
More promises
I know I know

When I close myself
No need to worry too much
I won’t ask about anything
But when I need honesty
Tell me who else to turn to
‘Cause you’re the only one I depend on

Song quote

…the track is a forerunner of the rock ballads of the eighties and nineties.

Ken Bielen, “The Words and Music of Billy Joel”

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