Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)

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"Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)"
Song by Billy Joel from the album Turnstiles
Released May 1976
Recorded Ultra Sonic Studio in Hempstead, NY
Genre Rock
Length 5:12
Label Columbia
Writer Billy Joel
Producer Billy Joel

"Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)" is a song written and originally recorded by Billy Joel which appeared as the final song on his album Turnstiles in 1976. Several live performances of the song have been released. He performed this song at benefit concerts: The Concert for New York City for victims of the September 11 attacks in 2001, on the television program Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together for Hurricane Sandy victims in 2012 and during his set at 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief. In the 2012 versions, he tweaked the original lyrics to reference the damage done by the hurricane.[1]

Background and story[edit]

The release of Turnstiles followed Billy Joel's return to his hometown of New York from a brief foray in Los Angeles which resulted in the albums Piano Man and Streetlife Serenade. Several of the songs are linked to this transition, including "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" and "New York State of Mind."

Speaking at the University of Pennsylvania in 2001, Joel explained that he wrote the song while living in Los Angeles in 1975, when New York City was on the verge of default. Joel stated that people in Los Angeles, including former New Yorkers, were deriding New York for its troubles. Joel says he thought, "If New York's going to go down the tubes, I'm going to go back to New York."[2] He explains that the song depicts the apocalypse occurring in New York, "the skyline tumbling down, this horrendous conflagration happening in New York City."[2] Joel stated that the song is titled "Miami 2017" because many New Yorkers retire to Miami and the narrator is telling his grandchildren in the year 2017 about what he saw in the destruction of New York.[2]

Joel has described it as a "science fiction song" about an apocalypse occurring in New York as a result of discussions that the city was failing in the 1970s.[3] New York was bordering on bankruptcy, and after asking the Federal Government for help, they were denied assistance. This resulted in the famous headline on the New York Daily News, stating "Ford to City: Drop Dead".[4]


In a review of Songs in the Attic for Rolling Stone magazine, Timothy White wrote, "'Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway),' from 1976's Turnstiles, is one chauvinistic New Yorker's reaction to the famous Daily News default-era headline ... and the composer's elaborate fantasy-farce about the apocalyptic destruction of the city is as take-it-or-leave-it defiant as the front page that inspired it."[5]

When the New York radio station WNEW-FM dropped its rock music format (in favor of "hot talk") in 1998, disc jockey Carol Miller chose "Miami 2017" as one of her farewell songs (along with Jimi Hendrix's version of "The Star-Spangled Banner").[6]

Reviewing Joel's 2010 compilation The Hits, on which "Miami 2017" was not included, reviewer Mike Doyle wrote, "[U]nfortunately, [the album is] not necessarily representative of his best work. ... [M]issing are some of the songs that helped define Billy Joel as one of the most talented American songwriters, such as ... 'Miami 2017' ...."[7]

Significance after September 11, 2001[edit]

Shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Billy Joel performed the song at a benefit concert on October 20, 2001. Joel pronounced at the end of the song, "I wrote that song 25 years ago. I thought it was going to be a science fiction song; I never thought it would really happen. But unlike the end of that song, we ain't going anywhere!" - a sentiment met with raucous applause.[8][9]

Cover versions[edit]

"Miami 2017" was recorded by Richard Marx in 1993, and released as a bonus track on international versions of his album Paid Vacation.

The song appeared in the original Chicago production of the jukebox musical Movin' Out[10] but was not included in the final version of the musical as performed on Broadway.[11]

Live performances[edit]

Eight live performances of the song are available:

Album/DVD Released Performed Venue Notes
Songs in the Attic 1981 June 1980 Madison Square Garden Opening track
Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium[12] 1990 June 1990 Yankee Stadium
The Concert for New York City 2001 October 22, 2001 Madison Square Garden 9/11 benefit concert
12 Gardens Live 2006 2006 Madison Square Garden
Last Play at Shea - DVD and CD 2008 2008 Shea Stadium Lyrics altered to refer to Shea Stadium and the New York Mets[13]
The Stranger 30th Anniversary Edition 2008 June 1977 Carnegie Hall
The Stranger 30th Anniversary Edition DVD 2008 1978 BBC's The Old Grey Whistle Test Aired only once on BBC 2
12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief 2012 December 12, 2012 Madison Square Garden Hurricane Sandy benefit concert


The song is available as downloadable content for the rhythm video game Rock Band 3 where it is listed as "Miami 2017 (See the Lights Go Out on Broadway)".


  1. ^ Hurricane Sandy: Come Together. NBC News. November 2, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Joel, Billy (November 6, 2001). What Was the Inspiration for 'Miami 2017?'. Retrieved May 3, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Billy Joel Masterclass Concert 2001 (Pt.2 of 12)". YouTube. Retrieved May 3, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Billy Joel Masterclass Concert 2001 (Pt.3 of 12)". YouTube. September 25, 2008. Retrieved May 3, 2012. 
  5. ^ White, Timothy (November 12, 1981). "Billy Joel: Songs in the Attic". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 30, 2012. 
  6. ^ Hinckley, David (September 14, 1999). "The Day The Music Died On 'new". Daily News (New York). Retrieved April 30, 2012. 
  7. ^ Doyle, Mike (November 12, 2010). "Billy Joel - 'The Hits'". The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.). Military Newspapers of Virginia. Retrieved April 30, 2012. 
  8. ^ Gamboa, Glenn (2001). "A Moment to Party Amid the Grief". [dead link]
  9. ^ Bielen, Ken (2011). The Words and Music of Billy Joel. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Praeger. pp. 34–35. ISBN 0313380163. Retrieved April 30, 2012. 
  10. ^ Simonson, Robert (July 19, 2002). "Movin' Out Is a Big Shot in Chicago, as Joel-Tharp Show Opens". Retrieved April 30, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Movin' Out (10/24/2002 - 12/11/2005)". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved April 30, 2012. 
  12. ^ Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium at the Internet Movie Database
  13. ^ Pareles, Jon (July 17, 2008). "Billy Joel Gives Shea its Own Last Waltz". New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2012. 

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