I Go to Extremes

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"I Go to Extremes"
Single by Billy Joel
from the album Storm Front
B-side"When in Rome"[1]
FormatCD single
Songwriter(s)Billy Joel
Billy Joel singles chronology
"I Go to Extremes"
"The Downeaster 'Alexa'"

"I Go to Extremes" is the fourth track on Billy Joel's 1989 album, Storm Front. It was released as the second single from the album in 1990. It peaked at the number six position on the Billboard Hot 100, and at #70 on the UK chart. The song was also a top ten hit on both the Adult Contemporary chart, as well as the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The song was also a top 40 hit in Germany, peaking at #36 on the German charts.

At one point considered a song about a manic-depressive, the song was originally written as an apology to Joel's wife at the time, Christie Brinkley. The B-side to the single was "When In Rome", which appeared on the same album. The music video consists of Joel and his backing band playing the song in a room. The song received a mostly positive response, and a live version appears on the album 2000 Years: The Millennium Concert. During live performances, Joel would often jokingly change the lyrics to the chorus, as well as to various lines in the song.

Writing and recording[edit]

The St. Paul Pioneer Press believes that the song chronicles the highs and lows of a "manic-depressive".[2] However, according to Joel, the song is an apology that is directed to his then wife, Christie Brinkley.[3] Joel was apologizing for his erratic personality.[3] In live concerts, Joel would often jokingly create new lyrics for the chorus, such as "I go for ice cream", and "I got a new wife on the cover of Life."[4][5] The song is believed to be about Joel's own lifestyle.[6] The b-side to the single release was another song from the album, "When in Rome".[1] The music video consists of Joel playing with musicians in a room.


The song reached the top ten in the US at #6 and reached #70 on the UK Singles Chart.[7] A live version of the song appeared on his album, 2000 Years: The Millennium Concert.

Dennis Hunt of The Los Angeles Times believed the song was the highlight of the album, saying that it was the only song that wasn't "tainted by a social message."[8] The Fresno Bee sarcastically says "Oh, Billy, stop it - you're just soooo extreme! Have your machine call my machine, and we'll do this extreme thing together."[9] The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said of the song, "I realized a lot of rock critics must have tin ears. Why else would they pan Billy Joel?"[10] Jan DeKnock of The Chicago Tribune believed that the song was "another sure-fire winner from his [Joel's] "Storm Front" LP."[11] Robb Frederick of The Daily Collegian believed that the song "shows remorse for a moodiness which almost reaches the degree of schizophrenia".[12] John MCalley of Rolling Stone called the song "hard-driving", and thought the character in the song was "futilely [trying] to account to his girlfriend for his inconsistent moods and wavering confidence."[13] The Miami Herald believed that the song had potential to be a "great" song, but was still disappointed.[14] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic believed that the song was one of the strongest songs of the album, also calling it "catchy."[15] Matthew Bernstein of The Boston Globe believes that it's a great work-out song.[16]

Chart positions[edit]

See also[edit]

The song was also released as downloadable content for the video game Rock Band 3 on March 21, 2011 as part of the Billy Joel Piano Challenge Pack.


  1. ^ a b "ultratop.be - Billy Joel - I Go To Extremes". ultratop.be. Retrieved 2009-03-27.
  2. ^ "Joel Shines on 'Storm Front'". St. Paul Pioneer Press. 7 January 1990. Retrieved 27 March 2009.
  3. ^ a b MacDonald, Patrick (1990-04-13). "He's Between Rock and a Hard Place". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2009-03-28.
  4. ^ S. Cohn, Jonathan (29 June 1990). "It's Back to Basics in a Show of Old Favorites". Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 27 March 2009.
  5. ^ Bernade, Scott (4 March 1990). "Joel Storms into Miami". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved 27 March 2009.
  6. ^ "Piano Man Billy Joel Just Wants to Have Fun". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 5 July 1990. Retrieved 27 March 2009.
  7. ^ a b "Billboard Hits". Austin American-Statesman. 10 March 1990. Retrieved 27 March 2009.
  8. ^ Hunt, Dennis (3 June 1990). "Mixed Media: Eye of the Storm". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 27 March 2009.
  9. ^ "In Rating Singles, The 'Nays' Have It". Fresno Bee. 9 March 1990. Retrieved 27 March 2009.
  10. ^ "Billy Starts the Fire At Star Lake". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 18 June 1990. Retrieved 27 March 2009.
  11. ^ DeKnock, Jan (19 January 1990). "It's Out with the Old, In with the New". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 27 March 2009.
  12. ^ Frederick, Robb (7 December 1989). "Billy Joel Catches a Flame". The Daily Collegian. Retrieved 27 March 2009.
  13. ^ MCalley, John (30 November 1989). "Billy Joel: Storm Front: Music Reviews: Rolling Stone". The Daily Collegian.
  14. ^ "Billy Joel Reaches Too Far for Too Little". Miami Herald. 4 November 1990. Retrieved 27 March 2009.
  15. ^ "allmusic ((( Storm Front > Overview )))". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2009-03-27.
  16. ^ Bernstein, Matthew (2007-04-14). "From Start to Finish: Tunes for the Long Haul". The Boston Globe.
  17. ^ http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/rpm/028020-119.01-e.php?brws_s=1&file_num=nlc008388.9243&type=1&interval=24&PHPSESSID=qqarrp21acuiipncdo8f6vitt5
  18. ^ Oricon Singles Chart Oricon Singles Chart (Retrieved 2 November 2012)
  19. ^ "everyHit.com - UK Top 40 Chart Archive, British Singles & Album Charts". everyhit.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-03-27.
  20. ^ "Top 100 Hit Tracks of 1990". RPM. Retrieved November 26, 2017.
  21. ^ "Billboard Top 100–1990". Archived from the original on 2010-01-17. Retrieved 2009-09-15.

External links[edit]