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Song Review: "Turn the Lights Back On"

By: Samantha Valentin

On Feb. 1, Billy Joel released his first new song in 17 years. This single titled, “Turn the Lights Back On”, has amassed over 2 million views on both YouTube and Spotify.

Joel, also known as the “Piano Man”, has been releasing hits since 1971 and has sold over 150 million records. He has six Grammy awards and 23 Grammy nominations. Joel was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, and the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006. Joel was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004 and has also amassed honorary doctorates of music from multiple colleges and universities.

Prior to “Turn the Lights Back On”, Joel released the single “All My Life” and wrote Cass Dillon’s “Christmas in Fallujah” in 2007. His most recent album, “River of Dreams”, was released in 1993.  

“Turn the Lights Back On”, follows the hardships of a failed relationship. The song has a slow tempo, featuring a beautiful piano melody that is joined by a cello after the first chorus. It is a vulnerable and heart-clenching song, and the instrumentals increase the intense emotions tenfold. 

Joel displays both his own and his lovers’ internal turmoil through his lyrics. His words are full of regret, sadness, and wanting to reach out to be with the one he loves. “Turn the Lights Back On” displays the unfortunate reality that some people do not allow themselves to be vulnerable or let necessary conversations happen, resulting in torture from their inner saboteur. 

This start of the chorus shows the willingness to push through and own up to what's happened in the relationship. Joel sings, “I'm late but I'm here right now” — the “me” he was during his relationship was not the “me” he should have been. He expresses he took a long time to figure himself out, but he is now here and ready to be reunited with the one he desires.

One of the most powerful points of the song occurs when Joel sings, “Did I wait too long/To turn the lights back on?” In the song he describes how it is time to go back and resolve the issues he took time away from, but he is concerned that he waited too long. This lyric is about the return to a lover, but we can also compare it to his long-awaited return to the music scene.

Overall, “Turn the Lights Back On”, is an exceptional comeback single. The song itself is full of beautiful instrumentals and meaningful lyrics, making the 17-year-wait truly worth it. It's only been out a short while, but the song is bound to be a hit.

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1 Comment

Beautifully written. Truly enjoyed the read !! Thank you❤️

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