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 Cuban Missile Crisis and 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 final line Billy sings, "We never knew what friends we had, until we came to Leningrad."
shape, hero, shot, experience – cl***ic :)
if you found that funny, your a sick and evil basterd and should be shot!
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