Anthony works in the grocery store
Savin' his pennies for someday
Mama Leone left a note on the door
She said, "Sonny, move out to the country"
Workin' too hard can give you
A heart attack (ack, ack, ack, ack, ack)
You oughta know by now (oughta know)
Who needs a house out in Hackensack
Is that what you get for your money?

It seems such a waste of time
If that's what it's all about
Mama if that's movin' up
Then I'm movin' out
I'm movin' out

Sergeant O'Leary is walkin' the beat
At night he becomes a bartender
He works at Mister Cacciatore's down
On Sullivan Street
Across from the medical center
He's tradin' in his Chevy for a Cadillac (ack, ack, ack, ack, ack)
You oughta know by now
And if he can't drive
With a broken back
At least he can polish the fenders

It seems such a waste of time
If that's what it's all about
Mama if that's movin' up
Then I'm movin' out
I'm movin' out

You should never argue with a crazy mind (mi-, mi-, mi-, mi-, mi-)
You oughta know by now
You can pay Uncle Sam with the overtime
Is that all you get for your money
If that's what you have in mind
If that's what you're all about
Good luck movin' up
'Cause I'm moving out
I'm moving out (mmm)
Ou, ou, uh huh (mmm)

I'm moving out


Lyrics submitted by kevin

Movin' Out (Anthony's Song) Lyrics as written by Billy Joel

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Movin' Out (Anthony's Song) song meanings
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35 Comments

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  • +6
    My Interpretation

    I believe the song has two solid comparisons of the typical western lifestyle of working your ass off for a home or car your whole life and Billy says ' if bustin your ass your whole life for a house in Hackensack or a new cadillac, then count me out."

    "He's tradin' in his Chevy for a Cadillac You oughta know by now And if he can't drive With a broken back At least he can polish the fenders"

    I love the broken back part. its so true people work their bodys to death and when the retire, they cant even enjoy it except for polishing your fenders.

    I have a similar opinion on life. Id rather be poor with no "american dream" expenses to ball-and-chain me for 30 years. Living a simple life in a van with a minimum wage job or doing odd jobs across the country with little bills to pay is the life i wish i chose.

    kylemtncruzron January 10, 2014   Link
  • +4
    General Comment

    Two words: Heart attack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack.

    Selfmutilizedon December 15, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    I never thought about it being about immigrants, but it does make sense. Look at the names he mentions: Anthony, Mama Leone, and Cacciatore are all Italian, and O'Leary is Irish. In New York, the Italian and Irish populations are quite large. The references to getting out of the ghetto and the dead-ends jobs seem like traditional "immigrant kids make good" stories. Also, the mention of Uncle Sam fits the bill. This is a really good song. The whole "Stranger" album is phenomenal.

    LittleBriddieon June 27, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I always felt this song was about how you work hard for something and someone else always has an idea what's BETTER for you than your own idea ( he's saving his pennies and she says Sonny move out to the country -- working too hard will give you a heart attack). Meanwhile the Sarge is busy working 2 jobs to keep up with Joneses. He's traded his Chevy for a Caddy, and even if he won't be able to drive it, he's busy polishing it up so it'll look good for the neighbors.

    Every generation wants better for the next one. Meanwhile that one wants better still, so most of them look around and say "get me outta here". I gre up in NY and I sure as heck wanted out.

    So, I always thought this song was about observing the older folks playing these life games and saying, "uh uh, not for me, I am outta here -- I'm moving out".

    As for the immigration angle, possibly that's thrown in there because he's alluding to neighborhoods he speaks of in the song which are Italian and Irish areas of NY and NJ.

    LolaBaton November 21, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    hmm good song, but i have spent so long trying to figure out what its about! I just don't get it! I never said anything because I thought everyone else might know and I didn't want to look stupid, but it looks like no one else knows either. Fantastic I'm not alone. O and that musical idea is terrible! Why Billy?!Why??

    queenjaneon March 02, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Many of Billy Joel's songs tell stories and are pretty straightforward. This is one of them, although it has a lot of New York local color to it. Basically in New York almost nobody can afford their way of life and everyone just goes nuts trying to keep up. They are trying to catch the train after it has already started to leave the station, so to speak. Anthony's mother wants better for her kid - meanwhile Sargeant O'Leary is working two jobs and working on that heart attack. If you work overtime you might make somewhat more but they take out more of your pay for taxes. The song is sort of an illustration of the workaholism prevalent in New York. Lolabat's explanation for this song is pretty good.

    stoolhardyon June 14, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Correction: ...eventually notices that nothing good will happen...

    wackedwits3000on April 26, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    About working to live and not living for yourself. Basically, not earning enough money in their jobs, having to get a second job (LEO/Barkeep), and still barely getting by.

    If that's moving up, I'm moving out... Gonna find a better job, or at the very least, one I enjoy.

    Nobody's slave... Working for someone else, not for yourself. All you do and it only helps your employer to move up - You stay put 'cause they need you there.

    "If that's moving up, I'm moving out"

    TehGreatMutatoon December 29, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    This song is about how it costs too much to live in the New York area. What do you have to do to "move up" here? What do you get for your money? A house in Hackensack? A cadillac? - but only after breaking your back working two jobs! Work all kinds of overtime just to give most of it back to the government! Is it worth it? "Moving Out" of the area (out to the country, perhaps) is the answer!

    hogweedon December 29, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I think this song basically represents the realization of "enough is enough" - that is, somebody realizing that 'moving up' may not be what's best for them. So instead of 'moving up' and being unhappy with the costs of doing so, they 'move out' and get out of the situation; they make things better for themselves. This song represents a person deciding that "hey, this isn't going to work for me, and this isn't worth it - I'm getting out of this situation and giving myself a better life."

    x_standstillon April 19, 2008   Link

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