Song Lyric Sunday — Our Italian Restaurant

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday theme, Jim Adams, has given us songs that feature the lyrics of either Past, Present, or Future. The song I chose to go with is the classic Billy Joel song, “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” which happens to be one of my all-time favorites songs. It’s a song that features present day reminiscing about the past.

“Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” was a song from Billy Joel’s 1977 album, The Stranger. Although never released as a single, it has become one of Joel’s most celebrated compositions.

In an interview, Joel cited the second side of The Beatles’ album Abbey Road as one of its primary musical influences. “I had always admired the B-side of Abbey Road, which was essentially a bunch of songs strung together by producer George Martin,” Joel said. “What happened was The Beatles didn’t have completely finished songs or wholly fleshed-out ideas, and George said, ‘What have you got?’ John said, ‘Well I got this,’ and Paul said, ‘I got that.’ They all sat around and went, ‘Hmm, we can put this together and that’ll fit in there.’ And that’s pretty much what I did for this song.” For what it’s worth, Abbey Road happens to be one of my all-time favorite albums.

At 7 minutes and 37 seconds, “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” is the longest of Joel’s rock music studio songs. It’s effectively a medley of three distinct pieces fused into one. “Italian Restaurant” begins as a gentle, melodic piano ballad, depicting a scene of two old classmates reuniting in an Italian restaurant. This segues into a triumphant and uptempo jazz-influenced section as the classmates catch up with each other’s lives and begin to reminisce. It then transitions to a rock and roll section that Joel calls “The Ballad of Brenda and Eddie,” which tells a story about high school sweethearts who were an “it” couple, who marry young, and quickly divorce. The tempo then slows as the song transitions back to the style of the first section and the two part fondly, with one character remarking “I’ll meet you anytime you want / At our Italian restaurant.”

Joel said he came up with the opening lines of the song while he was dining at a restaurant and a waiter actually came up to him and said, “Bottle of white… bottle of red… perhaps a bottle of rosé instead?” He also said that restaurant that inspired this song was the Fontana di Trevi right across from Carnegie Hall in New York City. That restaurant has since closed.

Here are the lyrics to “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.”

A bottle of white, a bottle of red
Perhaps a bottle of rose instead
We’ll get a table near the street
In our old familiar place
You and I, face to face

A bottle of red, a bottle of white
It all depends upon your appetite
I’ll meet you any time you want
In our Italian Restaurant

Things are okay with me these days
Got a good job, got a good office
Got a new wife, got a new life
And the family’s fine
We lost touch long ago
You lost weight I did not know
You could ever look so good after
So much time

I remember those days hanging out
At the Village Green
Engineer boots, leather jackets
And tight blue jeans
Drop a dime in the box play the
Song about New Orleans
Cold beer, hot lights
My sweet romantic teenage nights

Brenda and Eddie were the
Popular steadys
And the king and the queen
Of the prom
Riding around with the car top
Down and the radio on
Nobody looked any finer
Or was more of a hit at the
Parkway Diner
We never knew we could want more
Than that out of life
Surely Brenda and Eddie would
Always know how to survive

Brenda and Eddy were still going
Steady in the summer of ’75
When they decided the marriage would
Be at the end of July
Everyone said they were crazy
“Brenda you know you’re much too lazy
Eddie could never afford to live that kind of life”
But there we were, wavin’ Brenda and Eddie goodbye

They got an apartment with deep
Pile carpet
And a couple of paintings from Sears
A big waterbed that they bought
With the bread
They had saved for a couple
Of years
They started to fight when the
Money got tight
And they just didn’t count on
The tears

They lived for a while in a
Very nice style
But it’s always the same in the end
They got a divorce as a matter
Of course
And they parted the closest
Of friends
Then the king and the queen went
Back to the green
But you can never go back
There again

Brenda and Eddie had had it
Already by the summer of ’75
From the high to the low to
The end of the show
For the rest of their lives
They couldn’t go back to
The greasers
The best they could do was
Pick up the pieces
We always knew they would both
Find a way to get by
That’s all I heard about
Brenda and Eddie
Can’t tell you more than I
Told you already
And here we are wavin’ Brenda
And Eddie goodbye

A bottle of red, and a bottle of white
Whatever kind of mood you’re in tonight
I’ll meet you anytime you want
In our Italian Restaurant

14 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday — Our Italian Restaurant

  1. coach4aday November 7, 2021 / 4:18 am

    Loved the back story on the lines ““Bottle of white… bottle of red… perhaps a bottle of rosé instead?”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. newepicauthor November 7, 2021 / 8:41 am

    This song always make me hope that Brenda and Eddie will get back together again, but sadly they wasted their chance. Thanks for sharing this classic Fandango.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nope, Not Pam November 7, 2021 / 10:46 am

    I love this song, it’s one of my favourites. I often listen to it when I’m doing my handicrafts and smile. 😁

    Like

  4. leigha66 November 30, 2021 / 2:14 pm

    This is such a good song, it certainly doesn’t seem like that long of a song. In fact it leaves you wanting more. Classic Joel!

    Liked by 1 person

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