River Of Dreams was issued in August of 1993 and is the last pop album that Billy Joel has released to date. Sixteen years is a long time in the music world and whether he ever issues another pop/rock album remains to be seen.
Billy Joel’s life had taken a couple of turns for the worse by this point. He was embroiled with his ex-manager over the theft of large amounts of income plus his marriage to Christie Brinkley would end in divorce within a year’s time. The album came across as very serious which reflected his life situation at the time. What it all added up to was a work that may not have been as memorable as his earlier classics but it was solid throughout.
The first half dealt with the problems that were affecting his life. “The Great Wall Of China” has a nice bluesy feel to it as it deals with his financial situation and legal problems. “Blonde Over Blue” is an ode to the disintegration of a relationship. And “A Minor Variation” just has an overwhelming sense of sadness.
Joel’s psyche improves as the album nears its end. “Lullabye (Goodnight My Angel)”is a poignant song of acceptance as one relationship comes to an end but the one with his daughter Alexa will continue. “River Of Dreams” stands out from the rest of the tracks as it is just catchy pop reminiscent of his best work. It would become his last huge radio hit, reaching Number Three on the charts in the United States. “Two Thousand Years” finds him turning reflective as the line “time is relentless” probably sums up his thoughts at the time. This philosophical statement contains some nice piano work which revolves around some creative percussion.
The only song that rings hollow is “No Man’s Land” which rants against the ills of suburbia, a subject that he was by this time far removed from by virtue of money and status.
The album closes with the aptly named “Famous Last Words.” It is fittingly one last serenade from an artist who had created so many great tunes over the years.
Whether this will be Billy Joel’s final pop music statement remains to be seen. He has not ruled out releasing another album; so his millions of fans can only hope. In the meantime, they will have to be satisfied with one of the more enjoyable catalogues in music history.