The Ballad of And So It Goes (Literally)

“And So It Goes” is my favorite song in the world.

It is also, by the principle of inclusion, my favorite Billy Joel song in the world, too. And it is a bit significant to my life, though not in any blockbusteringly dramatic way. It just kept popping up for a while.

I discovered my mom’s old sheet music for it the summer after my sophomore year of high school and played it a lot and liked it, though, being around sixteen, I thought more about the lyrics which read “Every time I’ve held a rose it seems I’ve only felt the thorns” than “You can have this heart to break.”

Senior year of high school Mr. Stear handed out the song to be the ballad for the set at our fall concert. I was giddy. And I did a lot of surreptitious glancing at someone who didn’t deserve it while we rehearsed the song. “And you can have this heart to break.”

And we (the jazz choir) sort of kept the song in a high state of polish, to be ready for sentimental performances if we needed it.

Sometime in early March Matt got a new phone, and said, “What would you like your ringtone to be?” And I told him what my favorite song was. And we set the first few piano bars as my ringtone, and that was neat, in its way.

And later, in April, at a talent show, I sang and played this song. And Mr. Bird, who was MC, told me a nifty, lovely little story about it.

When the album, Storm Front, was released in 1990, it was back in the days pre-me when my parents had a social life, and Mr. and Mrs. Bird were part of that. And apparently they got to discussing the album. And my mom said, “Did you hear the tenth track?”

And the Birds said, “The tenth track?”

Apparently there’s a pause of quite a few seconds between the end of track 9 and the beginning of track 10 on the original record. So my mom put the record on and they listened to the last track. And, Mr. Bird told me, by the end he had tears running down his cheeks.

In every heart there is a room, a sanctuary safe and strong, to heal the wounds from lovers past until a new one comes along. I spoke to you in cautious tones; you answered me with no pretense. And still I feel I said too much; my silence is my self-defense. And every time I’ve held a rose, it seems I only felt the thorns, and so it goes, and so it goes, and so will you, soon, I suppose. But if my silence made you leave, then that would be my worst mistake, so I will share this room with you, and you can have this heart to break. And this is why my eyes are closed; it’s just as well for all I’ve seen. And so it goes, and so it goes, and you’re the only one who knows. So I would choose to be with you – that’s if the choice were mine to make, but you can make decisions too, and you can have this heart to break. And so it goes, and so it goes, and you’re the only one who knows.

In May we sang it at graduation. And just before we began another girl leaned over to me and said, “I am 700 percent done with this song,” and I suppose I was very blind and intolerant because it was totally unfathomable to me how anyone could be sick of this song when it was so beautiful, but I didn’t answer, and we sang it anyway. It was so beautiful.

Okay, I think I’m done rambling.



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