Words and Music by Billy Joel
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
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
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
The music video for "The Downeaster 'Alexa'" certainly doesn't romanticize working on the sea.
Live at Yankee Stadium (1990). The violinist is Lisa Germano, rather than Mindy Jostyn. Mindy who also played rhythm guitar, was replaced during the Storm Front tour by Tommy Byrnes.
Billy and the band sing "The Downeaster 'Alexa'" on SNL in 1989. Mindy Jostyn did a great job on the violin and was later asked to join the band on tour.
Billy is accompanied by the great Jean Luc-Ponty on violin in this live performance from 1990 or 1991.
Billy and the band on the Rosie O'Donnell Show (1998)
Live version for 12 Gardens (2006) (audio only)
Billy and Itzhak Perlman perform the song live at Madison Square Garden in March 2015. From BillyJoel.com.
Videos - The Making of "The Downeaster 'Alexa'"
Billy Joel discusses the album on Good Morning America. See 1:28 for "The Downeaster 'Alexa.'"
Billy explains a little bit about the origin of the song and performs it during a Master Class in 2001.
Gordon Lightfoot's "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." Billy was a fan of Gordon Lightfoot and this song inspired "Downeaster 'Alexa'"
In this excerpt from the Shades of Grey documentary, Billy discusses "The Downeaster 'Alexa'," life, and songwriting.
In a funny bit, Billy explains the beat of "The Downeaster Alexa" on 1 and 3, and how the song developed.
Procol Harum, live performance of "Salty Dog" ("All hands on deck, we've run a flow"). Billy opened for Procol Harum on tour back in 1974.