Billy Joel

Don't Ask Me Why

Song Review by

One of the most uncharacteristic singles Billy Joel ever released, "Don't Ask Me Why" is one of the highlights from his unconvincing response to new wave, Glass Houses; this is in large part because (perhaps foreshadowing the backwards allusions of his next two albums, The Nylon Curtain and An Innocent Man) the song is a quirky bit of neo-bossa nova that owes more to the Drifters' string of Latin-rhythm singles from the early '60s than to the Cars and the Knack. The bouncy rhythm is spurred by shakers and a pair of claves clicking along in 5/4 time, alongside prominent acoustic rhythm guitars; unusually, Joel's piano is kept well in the background except for one brief flamenco-accented solo. Based just on the tune and arrangement, one might even think it was one of Paul McCartney's frothier tunes from the heyday of Wings, but McCartney never would have written a set of lyrics like these. Sweet as it appears on the surface, "Don't Ask Me Why" is one of Billy Joel's "Positively Fourth Street" songs, a rather icy kiss-off to a former lover that's more condescendingly pitying than angry. Unlike the two previous Top 10 singles from Glass Houses, "Don't Ask Me Why" only barely scraped into the middle of the charts, but where "You May Me Right" and "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me" now sound terribly dated and stilted, this single retains its charm.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Glass Houses 1980 Sony Music Distribution 2:59
Greatest Hits, Vols. 1-2 (1973-1985) 1985 Columbia 2:59
The Complete Hits Collection 1973-1997 1997 Columbia / Sony Music Distribution 2:59
The Ultimate Collection 2001 Columbia 2:57
The Essential Billy Joel 2001 Legacy / Sony Music Distribution 2:59
No Image 2004 Sony Music Distribution 0:00
Original Album Classics, Vol. 1 2012 Sony Legacy 2:59