Seen the lights go out Broadway
I saw the Empire State laid low
And life went on beyond the Palisades
They all bought Cadillacs
And left there long ago

They held a concert out in Brooklyn
To watch the island bridges blow
They turned our power down
And drove us underground
But we went right on with the show

I've seen the lights go out on Broadway
I saw the ruins at my feet
You know we almost didn't notice it
We'd seen it all the time on Forty second street

They burned the churches down in Harlem
Like in that Spanish civil war
The flames were everywhere
But no one really cared
It always burned up there before

I've seen the lights go out on Broadway
I saw the mighty skyline fall
The boats were waiting at the battery
The union went on strike
They never sailed at all

They sent a carrier out from Norfolk
And picked the Yankees up for free
They said that Queens could stay
And blew the Bronx away
And sank Manhattan out at sea

You know those lights were bright on Broadway
That was so many years ago
Before we all lived here in Florida
Before the Mafia took over Mexico
There are not many who remember
They say a handful still survive
To tell the world about
The way the lights went out
And keep the memory alive


Lyrics submitted by fletch699

Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway) Lyrics as written by Billy Joel

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway) song meanings
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15 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentNo, but really.

    The song is about:
    In 1974, NYC was in big fiscal trouble: it coudln't pay back its loans..etc. Officials from NYC asked the federal government for relief money,and Gerald Ford denied it...the next day, the Daily News headline read "Ford to City: Drop Dead" Upon learning of this Billy Joel wrote a song in which the city did in fact "drop dead."

    Well, NY recovered and Ford lost the next election, because well, NY wanted him to drop dead.

    Alot of non-Billy fans think this song was written soley for Sept. 11th, and it wasn't. Billy has said that he considered this to be a science fiction song and never even considered the possibility of Sept. 11th happening.

    The live version is awesome...
    Instead of: "Since the Mafia took over Mexico" it's: "Since the mafia took over Jericho."
    But why not Hicksville?
    Surfpicoon September 19, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentSong is science fiction that billy wrote back in the 70's but takes on a new meaning after 9/11.

    WE AINT GOIN NOWHERE!!!
    gjstefanon January 25, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentHas anyone thought about this after the Trump election? I know that Joel did not write it predicting 9/11 or Trump but the prophetic nature of the song now that Trump, basically a symbol of NYC, will be sworn in as president in 2017 is quite eerie to me. And, it mentions Mexico...Enemy Number One for Trump! He launched his campaign speaking of the criminals from Mexico and his desire to build a wall. The song indicates that the Mafia takes over Mexico and it can be viewed that it is Mexico that blew up NYC as retaliation towards the US and more specifically Trump. I can think of no better way for Mexico to hurt Trump then sinking Manhattan out to sea. I'd love to hear other's thoughts on this.
    brian15551on January 16, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General Commentapocolyptic! I used to be mad at Billy when I was younget that he wrote that the yankees would be picked up for free. What about the Mets???
    LolaBaton November 21, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentobviously the mets are cooler so the mets were picked up for a price. =P
    perintasticon May 26, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song... it's the end of the world. God forbid I ever had to live in Florida. Haha...
    Surfpicoon September 19, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYeah. This song kicks ass. The piano in the beginning is so anthemic, it almost brings me to tears.
    Spartacusprimeon January 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song. The words are so powerful. I live on Long Island so this song speaks true to me. It is a picture of New York, if god forbid, something happens to the city. And I'm pretty sure it's the Mafia took over MEXICO. Although Jericho would sound right, a rich town with money, was taken over by a bunch of mobsters...LOL but it's not so idk...Amazing Song though.
    bigmac89on February 10, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIm in total agreement with surfpico on where it came from/the meaning of it. Very powerful song, so uplifting from..."They turned our power down
    And drove us underground
    But we went right on with the show "... on
    Jan the Manon September 01, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentDoes anyone know if Joel still sings this in his concerts? I know it's an old song....but it is still a little creepy post-911. I absolutely love the song though- like all his piano greats.
    elizabetta11on April 05, 2007   Link

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