Hard to pick a favorite with Billy Joel but this song has to be up there for me. It is common knowledge that the song highlights the plight of the Baymen in New York who fish and have gone through terrible hardship. I won’t presume to comment on that because I grew up a spoiled kid from California so I don’t feel qualified to speak about what could be a sensitive issue. Far be it from me to speak out of turn.
I will say that this song is much like Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle” or Bob Dylan’s “Times they are a Changing” inasmuch as it is a catchy, beautiful song with a very sad message.
Another thing I appreciate about this song is how it highlights Billy Joel’s range. That has always been one of the things I loved best about him. If you compare this piece to a piece like “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” or (arguably his most famous) “We Didn’t Start the Fire” the two songs are ostensibly different but still have the common thread of Joel’s powerful pipes. “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” is almost a pop piece with a throwback to the classic days of Rock and Roll whereas “Alexa” has almost a rock opera feel to it.