EP 029 – Album Retrospective: River of Dreams

Billy Joel’s last album is a study in contrasts. It sounds like a new beginning, when it was really the end of an era. It alternated between gritty, angular rhythms and sweet, flowing melodies. It’s arguably one of his most divisive albums. Yet it earned him a handful of award nominations, a new generation of fans, 5 million in record sales in America alone, and a pair of songs that would become classics and mainstays in his live shows.

River of Dreams was released on August 10, 1993. It’s Billy’s 12th studio album, and the last pop record he’d release. He switched producers once again after Storm Front, and jettisoned the last of his classic lineup mid-way through the production to complete it.

As a result, fans have mixed feelings about the record. But a close listen reveals lyrical and arrangement motifs that weave through the whole album. Put together, they form a narrative arc that starts with the frustrations and turmoil of everyday life, leads to a spiritual reawakening, and comes to rest with a peaceful reconciliation with the world and sense of optimism for what’s to come.

Join us as we dig deep into River of Dreams.


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