World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Leningrad (song)

Single by Billy Joel
from the album Storm Front
B-side "Goodnight Saigon", "Vienna", "Scandinavian Skies"
Released 1989
Format 7"
CD single
Recorded 1988-1989
Genre Rock
Length 4:06
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Billy Joel
Producer(s) Billy Joel, Mick Jones
Billy Joel singles chronology
"We Didn't Start the Fire"
"I Go to Extremes"

"Leningrad" is a 1989 song written and performed by American singer and songwriter Billy Joel. The song was originally released on his album Storm Front on the Columbia Records label, and went on to be released as a single. It was also released on his Greatest Hits, Vol. 3 compilation. The song title is derived from the former name of St. Petersburg, Russia (see Leningrad).


  • Synopsis 1
  • Chart positions 2
    • Year-end charts 2.1
  • See also 3
  • References 4


The song was written by Joel about a Russian clown named Viktor, whom he met while touring the Soviet Union in 1987. Throughout the song, major items of Viktor's and Joel's lives are compared to show the cultural differences and similarities of the United States of America and the Soviet Union.

In the song, Joel describes Viktor's life as one of many Soviet children who lost fathers during World War II, specifically during the siege of Leningrad. He enlisted in the Red Army, drank vodka to fight the pain, and then became a circus clown, bringing joy to Russian children.

Joel described his childhood life as being "born in 49, a cold war kid in McCarthy time." He briefly describes his life living in Levittown, and the fear of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Joel also makes a reference to the Korean War, a proxy war to the Cold War, as well as the Vietnam War.

In the end, the two meet after Billy's Leningrad concert (Viktor had journeyed across Russia to see all six of the Russian concerts), where Viktor draws a laugh from Billy's daughter Alexa, then they hug. In the song's last line Billy sings, "We never knew what friends we had, until we came to Leningrad."

The quote is printed on the single cover. But not on the cover of the 4 track CD, which instead features the titles of the extra songs: "Goodnight Saigon", "Vienna", "Scandinavian Skies".

Chart positions

Chart (1989/1990) Peak
Australian Singles Chart 90
Belgian Singles Chart (Flanders)[1] 17
Dutch Top 40[2] 15
French Singles Chart[3] 76
German Singles Chart 14
UK Singles Chart 53

Year-end charts

Chart (1990) Position
German Singles Chart[4] 97

See also


  1. ^ (Retrieved September 17, 2012)
  2. ^ Dutch Top 40 1990. Retrieved 2009-01-08.
  3. ^
  4. ^

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.