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Can Anyone Help Me? Billy Joel - Allentown

 
 
Reply Wed 14 Apr, 2004 03:33 pm
Hi, can anyone help me out with digging deep into the lyrics of Allentown by Billy Joel.

There are a few lines i just cant make sense of- i would like an interpretation... such as,

...
Out in Bethlehem they're killing time
Filling out formsStanding in line

Well our fathers fought the Second World War
Spent their weekends on the Jersey Shore
Met our mothers in the USO
Asked them to dance
Danced with them slow
And we're living here in Allentown

...

Every child had a pretty good shot
To get at least as far as their old man got
But something happened on the way to that place
They threw an American flag in our face
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Apr, 2004 03:37 pm
Quote:
Allentown Lyrics

Well we're living here in Allentown
And they're closing all the factories down
Out in Bethlehem they're killing time
Filling out forms
Standing in line
Well our fathers fought the Second World War
Spent their weekends on the Jersey Shore
Met our mothers in the USO
Asked them to dance
Danced with them slow
And we're living here in Allentown

But the restlessness was handed down
And it's getting very hard to stay

Well we're waiting here in Allentown
For the Pennsylvania we never found
For the promises our teachers gave
If we worked hard
If we behaved
So the graduations hang on the wall
But they never really helped us at all
No they never taught us what was real
Iron and coke
And chromium steel
And we're waiting here in Allentown

But they've taken all the coal from the ground
And the union people crawled away

Every child had a pretty good shot
To get at least as far as their old man got
But something happened on the way to that place
They threw an American flag in our face

Well I'm living here in Allentown
And it's hard to keep a good man down
But I won't be getting up today

And it's getting very hard to stay
And we're living here in Allentown
0 Replies
 
Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Apr, 2004 04:14 pm
Allentown is part of the Greater Lehigh Valley and I've lived in or near that area for nearly 30 years.

Bethlehem is a town in Israel. It is also a city sharing a border with Allentown. It used to be the home of Bethlehem Steel--but no more.

The forms being filled out in Bethlehem are for unemployment benefits.

During the '40's and '50's the seacoast of New Jersey--Atlantic City, Wildwood, etc. were standard vacation spots for steelworkers, men working at Mack Trucks.

USO romances are part of the stuff of romance of WW II. Local organizations teamed up with the USO to have coffees and dances for the lonely boys in uniform, far from home.

During the '40's and '50's and even the '60's into the '70's, life was good in the Lehigh Valley. Unions were strong, wages were high and the living was easy.

Widespread layoffs, shifting manufacturing to southern plants and closing factories....the Lehigh Valle--and other parts of PA--became part of the Rust Belt.

Billy Joel wanted to blame the politicians for the fact that the sons of the union men couldn't earn wages like their fathers and grandfathers...in spite of the fact that their fathers had saved the world for democracy in WW II. Hence the "flag in the face".

There is no one, easy answer.

Industry, clean, high tech industry, is coming to the Valley--life for most people is a little less painful than in the Allentown of song.
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farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Apr, 2004 06:30 pm
all, sadly true.

yet even thhe high tech portion has somehow missed the Valley , for the Lucents, Agivents, and other spin-offs from Western Electric and ATT have suffered badly from the outsourcing of the high tech electronics inductry and the PA tax system is oppressive to business.
0 Replies
 
NvRgivN0610
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 Apr, 2004 02:59 pm
Thanks a lot
Thats a lot farther than what my parents got me on the lyrics =P

dont mean to show my ignorance Embarrassed but i myself like only 30 mins from Allentown myself, in Palmerton/Lehighton. I was just a bit confused over some terms despite knowing of the industrial revolution

thanx a lot again Very Happy
0 Replies
 
 

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