There, I Fixed it: Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are”

by Becka Robbins on April 7, 2016

 

"You're pretty good so far, and haven't disappointed me. Please continue to be satisfactory."

“You’re pretty good so far, and haven’t disappointed me. Please continue to be satisfactory.”

Last night I was at a favorite piano bar, and someone offered me a hundred bucks to sing “Just the Way You Are.” I’m a fan of Billy Joel’s music, but I’m not a singer, and, since he’s basically a classically trained opera singer, he’s impossible to render on tune. Also, I’d never met this guy, never sang at this bar, and the guy was wearing a bad suit and tried to put his hands on my hips. So the answer was a stern no, with additional instructions to back off said less politely.

But let’s talk about this song for a minute or two. “Just the Way You Are” was a classic wedding song in the seventies. Look how sweet it is! It’s about loving someone with all their flaws. Or at least, that’s the obvious message. We are going to take the innocence right out of it, turning it from charming love song into something else by deploying my trusty feminist raygun at this pop standard.

Don’t go changing to try to please me
you never let me down before

Angry Feminist Translation (AFT):

“You’re pretty good so far, and haven’t disappointed me.  Please continue to be satisfactory.

And don’t imagine
you’re too familiar
and I don’t see you anymore.

AFT: “I’m not tired of you because we don’t spend that much time together.”

I wouldn’t leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times; I’ll take the bad times
I’ll take you just the way you are

The AFT has to admit this part is pretty sweet. It’s admitting that love is normal and long, and subject to turbulence.

Don’t go trying some new fashion
Don’t change the color of your hair
You always have my unspoken passion
Although I might not seem to care

The AFT says that we’re getting into some pretty shady emotionally manipulative territory. It’s almost like he’s saying that he thinks she’s fantastic no matter what, but maybe he’s actually saying that he doesn’t notice that she makes an effort, or maybe he’s saying that he doesn’t know how to display affection and she shouldn’t expect too much — who knows? This is so unclear, and if the person I were in love with said this to me, I would worry endlessly about what he meant, and then I would ask for specific clarification, and we would probably have an argument.

I don’t want clever conversation
I never want to work that hard
I just want someone that I can talk to
I want you just the way you are

The AFT says this is seriously deeply screwed up. He loves her because she’s not smart? Or he loves her because she doesn’t act too smart? Or she’s really smart and he’s asking her to tone it down for his comfort? What is he actually talking about?  This is so shady and manipulative, and it sounds like he really wants her just the way he prefers to see her.

I need to know that you will always be
The same old someone that I knew
What will it take till you believe in me
The way that I believe in you?

See what I mean? He’ll totally love her as long as she never changes! He believes in her as long as she doesn’t threaten his precious ego. Maybe she’s going to wake up and have a personal revolution and become a fighter pilot with a lesbian army like Pussy Galore, and get out from under his oppressive thumb to fly under her own rules, or maybe they’ve only been together for two weeks and he’s kind of a stalker, and is elevating the status of their relationship and giving her a love song promising forever on his own specific, controlling terms.   

Thus, I went ahead and fixed the song to make it less creepy.

Don’t go changing to try and please me
You never let me down before
But do what feels good for you
Don’t imagine you’re too familiar
And I don’t see you anymore
I’ll support the things you do

I wouldn’t leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times; I’ll take the bad times
I’ll take you just the way you are

Don’t go trying some new fashion
Don’t change the color of your hair
You always have my unspoken passion
Although I might not seem to care
You always have my focus and passion
And it’s totally obvious because I tell you all the time

I don’t want need clever conversation
I never want to work that hard
You never have to work that hard
I just someone that I can talk to
I want you just the way you are

I need to know that you will always be
I’ll love the future you just as much as
The same old someone that I knew
What will it take till you believe in me
The way that I believe in you?

I said I love you and that’s forever
And this I promise from the heart
I could not love you any better
I love you just the way you are

Becka Robbins is a music and book nerd and a software engineer/project manager in San Francisco.  She loves dogs and karaoke, and can be followed on the Twitters at @beckastar.

Read Also:

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: