Billy Joel – Down Easter Alexa Acoustic chords

Downeaster Alexa
Words & Music By Billy Joel
Arranged for Single Acoustic Guitar
Transcribed by Eric Norcross

Note: Arrangements for this transcription were made several ways, over the course of the
few years.  First and foremost by listening to all the different recordings of the song
I could locate, secondly using notes from existing tablature and chord progression
 Forth, observing various covers of the song through video links online (youtube and
forth).  The end result is this document, which I believe to be the very best
of the song for a single acoustic guitar that exists for “Downeaster Alexa”.

*See below for the back-story of this song.  You shouldnÂ’t sing it unless you know what
singing about!

Chords Used: Am Am7add11 G FE ---------0---|---------0----------|---3---|---1---|------|-------|B ---------1---|---------1----------|---3---|---1---|------|-------|G ---------2---|---------0----------|---0---|---2---|------|-------|D ---------2---|---------0----------|---0---|---3---|------|-------|A ---------0---|---------0----------|---2---|---3---|------|-------|E ---------0---|---------x----------|---3---|---1---|------|--------|
Intro: The intro is the main part of the song that simulates waves crashing against the of an old Downeaster fishing vessel. This is also played once very quickly after the line of each verse as noted below. Am – Am7add11 – Am - G Am – Am7add11 – Am – G Am – Am7add11 – Am
C G Am Am7add11 AmWell I'm on the Downeaster Alexa
C G FAnd I'm cruising through Block Island Sound
F C DmI have chartered a course to the Vineyard
C G FBut tonight I am Nantucket bound
G C FWe took on diesel back in Montauk yesterday
G Am G FAnd left this morning from the bell in Gardiner's Bay
G C FLike all the locals here I've had to sell my home
G Am GToo proud to leave, I worked my fingers to the bone
C G Am Am7add11 AmSo I could own my Downeaster Alexa
C G FAnd I go where the ocean is deep
F C DmThere are giants out there in the canyons
C G FAnd a good captain can't fall asleep
G C FI got bills to pay and children who need clothes
G Am G FI know there's fish out there but where, God only knows
G C FThey say these waters aren't what they used to be
G Am GBut I've got people back on land who count on me
C G Am Am7add11 AmSo when you see my Downeaster Alexa
C G FAnd if you work with the rod and the reel
F C DmTell my wife I am trolling Atlantis
C G FAnd I still have my hands on the wheel
Break: Am Am7add11 Am G Am Am7add11 Am G Em Am Am7add11 Am G Am Am7add11 Am
C G Am Am7add11 AmNow I drive my Downeaster Alexa
C G FMore and more miles from shore every year
F C DmSince they told me I can't sell no stripers
C G FAnd there's no luck in sword fishing here
G C FI was a bay man like my father was before
G Am G FCan't make a living as a bay man anymore
G C FThere ainÂ’t much future for a man who works the sea
G Am GThere ain't no island left for islanders like me
C G Am Am7add11 AmYa, ya, ya yo
C G Am Am7add11 AmYa, ya, ya yo
C G Am Am7add11 AmYa, ya, ya yo
C G Am Am7add11 AmYa, ya, ya yo
End it with: Am Am7add11 Am ==Song Facts== Downeaster Alexa: In the first verse of the song, Billy Joel establishes that he’s a working on a Downeaster fishing vessel called the “Alexa”. There is an actual fishing berthed along the coast of Maine called the Alexa (note: Maine’s coast is often referred as “Down East”. Block Island Sound, Vineyard, Nantucket: The song is written for the mariners working in North Eastern United States, and so many of the geographical places are mentioned, Block Island Sound (a nautical passage way off of Long Island’s East End and near and of course the actual Block Island), the Vineyard refers to Martha’s Vineyard, an that is much like the Hamptons, once predominantly a fishing village is now quite and used primarily as a summer resort for those who can afford it. Nantucket Island, a fairly island off of Massachusetts is similar in back story to Martha’s Vineyard. Montauk is the eastern most point of Long Island and often associated with the famous Many fishing vessels port in Montauk and the surrounding areas. Prior to the wealthy the Hamptons, the whole south fork used to be a working class cluster of fishing This is also relatively near Gardiner’s Bay, which is one of the bodies of water that the north and south forks of Long Island. There is a single political point to the song that is delivered using two primary The point is that making a living as a mariner is becoming a lot harder as the fish become Hence the line “there’s no luck in sword fishing here”. The second example is the use the word “islander”. Islander: In the line “there ain’t no island left for islanders like me” – Joel isn’t about a specific island and it would be foolish to think that he’s specifically talking all of Long Island. A great majority of America’s North Eastern fishing industry is up of families living on islands all up the coast, from New York to Maine. In fact, the of Maine is often referred to as “down east” and inspired the term “Downeaster”. Down is often used in travel magazines and in everyday lingo that refer to the coast of Maine. From the Cranberry Isles to the islands of Casco Bay, all the way down to Cape Cod and Vineyard, nearly every working resident of these communities can relate to the because this song was in fact written about ALL of them. The line “there ain’t no left for islanders like me” also refers to the “Hamptonization” of these islands and that becoming tougher for fishermen to make their living on the water for the reason that can’t afford to be on the waterfront with the wealthy moving into these areas. Like all musical pieces, meanings can be interpreted any which way you relate to it. I up in a small fishing community in Maine and am well versed in geography, the north east industries and based on my knowledge of the world in which this song is set, this is the accurate translation I have been able to come up with. Suffice to say, I’m sure Joel has a far more personal back story than any of us could ever relate.
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