Billy Joel etymology
February 15, 2008 7:04 AM Subscribe
What does Billy Joel mean when he sings, “the most she will do is throw shadows at you”?
posted by dreamphone to writing & language (31 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Ever since I first heard Billy Joel’s Always a Woman from the “The Stranger” album (I was five years old at the time of the release, but probably heard the song for the first time a few years later), I’ve always puzzled over the final line: “...the most she will do is throw shadows at you (but she’s always a woman to me).” For several years, I wondered if he meant that the most she would do (i.e., “the worst thing”) is to leave—that “throwing shadows” is what happens when a person turns her back on you. Eventually I concluded that I was being too literal and that the expression was probably some grown-up phrase about something I was too young to understand. Now, 30 years later, I still have no idea what he means. A friend suggested that it may mean that the woman Joel is singing about is sort of flighty and insubstantial, that she never really gives you anything that you can really hold on to, just smoke and mirrors. Although plausible, this explanation is somewhat dissatisfying. Any other interpretations? (And has anyone ever heard of the expression to “throw shadows at someone,” in any other context?)