Social Issue Essay


Per. 3 American Lit


In the song, “Allentown,” by Billy Joel, sings about how unemployment has affected people in this town. For a lot of the people in the town, it’s hard to get a job, but when they don’t have a job, they get past memories of their lives.


It’s hard for people to stay at home because they don’t have a job, because there are not jobs to be employed by. Joel sings, “And it’s getting very hard to stay.” People without jobs cant stay home, because there is nothing to do. Bethlehem is know for its steel, but even with the steel industry, there still are no jobs for the people, and it’s difficult for them to stay at home all day with out a job. “And we’re waiting here in Allentown, and they’re closing all the factories down.” Because of all the factories closing, the unemployment rate jumped from 8 to 44%, resulting in estimates that are of loss of $250 million. With the closing of the factories, people lost their jobs and cannot find any more. “But they’ve taken all the coal from the ground, and the union people crawled away.” Joel is trying to say that the union members cheated everyone in Allentown and took their profits with them. When factories were closing, many employers left, witch resulted in finding no jobs.


People in Allentown who don’t have a job, get past memories of their lives, because their lives are so miserable, they have to rely on memories to keep them busy. Further more, “Well our father fought the second World War…met out mothers in the USO.” Since no one has a job, they just have time to think. All they can think about is their past memories. “So the graduations hand on the wall. But they never really helped us at all.” Joel is singing about how people earned their Highs School Diploma, but now there is no use for it. People felt like there was no need to even go to High School and waste their times, because there is no use of it now. Memories are the way people past time around Allentown.


In conclusion, unemployment can have a big effect on people’s lives. Billy Joel sings “Allentown” because it tell the people of what happened in that city, and what effects unemployment had on the whole city.