"Leningrad" as written by and Billy Joel....
Victor was born
The spring of '44
And never saw
His father anymore
The child of sacrifice
Child of war
Another son who never had
A father after Leningrad
Went off to school
And learned to serve his state
Follow the rules
And drank his vodka straight
The only way to live
Was drown the hate
The Russian life was very sad
And such was life in Leningrad

I was born in '49
A cold war kid in the McCarthy times
Stop 'em at the 38th parallel
Blast those yellow reds to hell
Cold war kids were hard to kill
Under their desks in an air raid drill
Haven't they heard we won the war
What do they keep on fighting for?

Victor was sent
To some red army town
Served out his time
Become a circus clown
The greatest happiness
He'd ever found
Was making Russian children glad
When children lived in Leningrad.

The children lived in Levittown
Hid in the shelters underground
Til the soviets turned their ships around
Torn the Cuban missiles down
And in that bright October sun
We knew our childhood days were done
I watched my friends go off to war
What do they keep on fighting for?

So my child and I came to this place
To meet him , eye to eye and face to face
He made my daughter laugh
Then we embraced
We never knew what friends we had
Until we came to Leningrad.


Lyrics submitted by kevin

"Leningrad" as written by Billy Joel

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Leningrad song meanings
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12 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentAmazingly powerful song; genius from a rocker. Musically, this song is stunning because the construction adds so much to the lyrics. Note that the passages dedicated to the USSR are written in (D) Major, a key of joy and optimism, while the passages on the good ol' USA are in D Minor. Where is the retrospective pathos and tragedy in this song? Brilliant.
    wytstuffon March 24, 2008   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningThis song is probably an anti-war message to remove the hostility between the soviets and the americans, as exhibited by," Haven't they heard we won the war What do they keep on fighting for?" for the russians and then he repeats this line for the Americans when he says,"And I watched my friends go off to war What do they keep on fighting for?" The lyrics then state, "We never knew what friends we had Until we came to Leningrad." This line encompasses the main idea of the song that both sides of the war have been taught that the other side is evil, because of propaganda; but to the contrary, they share the same struggles and found this out when they finally met each other.
    dbeagleholeon May 06, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is a true story of when Billy Joel went to Lenigrad during the Cold War. He met a clown, who's job was to make people laugh in the midst of all the pain and depression.

    "He made my daughter laugh, then we embraced"

    He was amazed at how this man could make it daughter laugh through all the drama so we wanted to learn more about him. He did and he made a sotry about it.
    RalphieGiordanoon September 27, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is such a sad and beautiful song
    freddysgirlon May 29, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is pretty self-explanatory; it's about a longtime fan from the USSR that he met when he went on tour there in the late 80's (read up on significance of the tour). He was a clown by profession.
    suckmykisson March 03, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think there is alot to what suckmykiss said, but I think there's an additional element. Billy refers to his life back in the US, being a "cold war kid in McCarthy time," and its similarities to Viktor's life in the Russia of Lenin, Stalin and Gorbachev. While the song is an acknowledgement of respect for a fan, it also tells the fan "hey, I can definitely sympathize with you. stay strong, brother."
    donquixote1987on June 19, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentExcept there's alot of poetic licence in that, Don. There's really no way for someone who grew up free to relate to what the Soviet citizens had to go through
    slagoniaon May 01, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhat can you really say about this song? Admittedly, yes, that's what it means... But, really, you can barely even put this songs into words. This is one of Billy Joel's most moving songs, and it struck me as incredible.
    Hyperfriedon February 02, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhat can you really say about this song? Admittedly, yes, that's what it means... But, really, you can barely even put this songs into words. This is one of Billy Joel's most moving songs, and it struck me as incredible.
    Hyperfriedon February 02, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhat he grew up to beleive was his sworn enemy actually turned out to be his friend. The song is especially poignant given that the Cold War ended soon after.
    matthew_gentlyon May 03, 2006   Link

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