Between 2003 and 2006 Joel wrote an extraordinary amount of material that could be classified as "protest" music. Though he may protest that classification [pun intended] as he states, "if you consider describing the enthusiastic betrayal of high ideals protest then sure, call it protest, but I prefer you think of them [these songs] as the love songs of an unrequited idealist". This material is wordy, referential yet undated and biblically dense in symbology metaphor and poetics while perfectly set in the simple Southern vernacular of a farmhand describing chores.
Joel was quoted in interview once as having said, "If there is a period of my work that the egg-heads will find commercially advantageous, this[American 03-06] is it. There's enough meat in the lyrics of this period to spawn a whole encyclopedia's worth of meta-careers. But no, it's unlikely I'll ever write in this manner again as I've traded in my fascination of mid-60's Dylan-esque vitriol for something more resigned.... [Interviewer asks: Why is that?] I suppose...the acceptance of one's insignificance as they age, that sort of thing..."