Well, we all have a face
That we hide away forever
And we take them out
And show ourselves when everyone has gone
Some are satin, some are steel
Some are silk and some are leather
They're the faces of a stranger
But we'd love to try them on

Well, we all fall in love
But we disregard the danger
Though we share so many secrets
There are some we never tell
Why were you so surprised
That you never saw the stranger?
Did you ever let your lover
See the stranger in yourself?

Don't be afraid to try again
Everyone goes south every now and then, ooh
You've done it
Why can't someone else?
You should know by now
You've been there yourself

Once I used to believe
I was such a great romancer
Then I came home to a woman
That I could not recognize
When I pressed her for a reason
She refused to even answer
It was then I felt the stranger
Kick me right between the eyes

Well, we all fall in love
But we disregard the danger
Though we share so many secrets
There are some we never tell
Why were you so surprised
That you never saw the stranger?
Did you ever let your lover
See the stranger in yourself?

Don't be afraid to try again
Everyone goes south every now and then, ooh
You've done it
Why can't someone else
You should know by now
You've been there yourself

You may never understand
How the stranger is inspired
But he isn't always evil
And he is not always wrong
Though you drown in good intentions
You will never quench the fire
You'll give in to your desire
When the stranger comes along


Lyrics submitted by kevin

The Stranger Lyrics as written by Billy Joel

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Capitol CMG Publishing, Songtrust Ave, Anthem Entertainment, Reservoir Media Management, Inc., Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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The Stranger song meanings
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23 Comments

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  • +6
    General Comment

    This song is talking about the "real you," the one that we tend to hide in public. Since we don't see this person very often, it's called "The Stranger." I think the "storyline" of the song though would suggest that the main character was so busy being someone else that when he finally did go home to a loved one, they didn't recognize eachother. The very last verse sort of gives me the impression that some people really fear this stranger and it's desires, but we shouldn't because sometimes The Stranger is right.

    Good OL MCon June 14, 2003   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    I think that Joel's stranger is similar to what archetypal psychologist Carl Jung spoke of as the shadow--parts of ourselves that we disown, usually because they are disapproved of by our society and our intimates. Anything that contradicts our image of ourselves may be consigned to the shadow.

    The stranger (shadow), says Joel, isn't always evil and he isn't always wrong. Though you drown in good intentions You will never quench the fire You'll give in to your desire When the stranger comes along.

    In other words, the shadow contains enormous energy and possibilities that we ignore at our peril. If we don't own the dissociated aspects of ourselves, like hungry dogs locked in the basement, they can wreak havok when released. Better to embrace them so we can use their energy for our own growth and development.

    1

    ambigonon December 01, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    FuzzyMonkey, you're an idiot. I think Good OL MC has got it.

    TheSourceon February 09, 2006   Link
  • +2
    Song Meaning

    The real meaning behind this song: A few people hit on it, a few people were WAY off. Infidelity, plain and simple. The stranger describes "the mystery guest" that lurks either in our past, or present, and is enoug to damage a current relationship. "Well we all have a face that we hide away forever". It isn't OUR face, as some people believe on here, it's another lover's face he his talking about. "Though we share so many secrets, there are some we never tell." Meaning the secrets we have about "other relationships" that would put our butts in the cooker. "Don't you ever let your lover see the stranger in yourself" Meaning when you cheat, you are a changed person, and feelings change, and it's obvious. The part that mentions "don't be afraid to try again, everyone goes south, every now and then" Meaning we all screw up. "You've done it, why can't someone else, you should know by now, you've been there yourself"...meaning there was a time YOU did this to someone, and now you are getting a taste of your own medicine, so swallow it all! "You may never understand how the stranger is inspired, though he is not always evil, and he is not always wrong". Meaning your better half could have gone out and executed this one perfectly, and the other person was a victim to it...they had no idea about YOU! In essence, he is sometimes INNOCENT. To sum it up, the Stranger is the "mystery guest" hiding behind curtain #1. You have no idea who he or she is, and that makes them....THE STRANGER.

    ItalianDJon November 06, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    strdsbrg, I think you are right. But I think it is broader than just fetishes, but all aspects of your personality. It talks about stuff secrets we share but there are some things about ourselves we never share with anyone, even the people we are closest to. I know there are things in my head that are intrinsic to who I am, but that I would never share with loved ones because it would freak them out. And they have nothing to do with sex. I think most people are like that.

    I've heard this song since I was a kid but I never bothered to dissect the lyrics before. But this is currently my favorite song. These lyrics are deep.

    SadisticSavioron May 28, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    this song fucking kicks

    ZinbobDanon May 07, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    This song is one of the best written songs I have ever heard. There are three incredible melodies in this song, and the lyricism is to die for.

    ECisGodon December 23, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I agree with Good Old MC and in addition I believe the song has something to do with the Albert Camus book, L'etranger (the stranger). Considering the main character "puts on a different face" and hides himself from the world etc. and in the process loses everything including the girl he knew he loved (but couldn't manage to admit it because he was "the stranger") and his life.

    rattleon June 25, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I agree with most people here, though, I think "The Stranger" refers to not our true selves, but rather, our artificial ones, the faces we create to please others and adapt to social situations.

    Because, of course, it would be our lovers who know our true selves. The question is, do we ever let our lovers see the people we become when we are out in the world?

    And FuzzyMonkey:

    "Everyone goes south" is a relatively well-known adage meaning that nobody is perfect. The song really has nothing to do with masturbation.

    Source is right. You're an idiot.

    bugmenot123on August 25, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    it's a valid interpretation, but I don't think this song is about cheating, simply because of the "you've done it, why can't someone else?/you should know by now/you've been there yourself" verse. not everyone has cheated on their spouse. actually, the majority of people haven't. . .

    it's always seemed to me like it was about the aspects of your personality that you hide from others and only show yourself, like when you're alone or inside your thoughts. this seems like one of those songs that's open to interpretation, because in some places the lyrics are really cryptic and could have a million different meanings. that's just the way I see it :D

    julianicole629on February 15, 2011   Link

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