I like Billy Joel's music, but the guy's attitude gets on my nerves. It's that whole tough-guy front that I complained about with Jay Leno. Why are you people so insecure that you need to act like that all the time? Afraid someone might think you're gay? Hey, I'm kind of surprised that Billy is willing to tour with Elton John, for fear of accusations of flamboyance by association.
I've been thinking of doing one of my dissections for a Billy Joel song, but I wasn't sure which one to go with. I considered "Captain Jack," but I couldn't think of that many jokes other than "huh huh, he said 'masturbate.'" So here's my look at the 1977 song "Only the Good Die Young," about a guy trying to convince a Catholic girl to have sex with him. I can agree with him in a sense, because while "no sex before marriage" might be a useful guideline for some, I really fail to see how a marriage license is the key to preventing sin. Isn't God usually portrayed as operating more subtly than that? Still, while I have nothing against premarital sex, I don't think that means you need to do it with the first schmo who expresses interest, which seems to be what this song is suggesting.
Come out, Virginia, don't let me wait
You Catholic girls start much too late
That's not entirely true. Some of them just get married young to people they hardly know.
Ah but sooner or later it comes down to fate
I might as well be the one
So the narrator is saying that this girl's fate is to have sex, so she might as well have it with him as anyone? What a crappy pick-up line! It's making "Did you fall from Heaven?" sound sensible. Why not argue that the ban of premarital sex dates back to a time when women were considered property? I'm sure it still wouldn't work, but at least it would sound less smug.
Well, they showed you a statue, told you to pray
Yeah, I know Catholic churches are full of statuary, especially when compared to other Christian houses of worship, but I'm still kind of amused by this line. Hey, Billy, are you sure she's a Catholic, and not a worshipper of Ba'al Hadad?
You might have heard I run with a dangerous crowd
We ain't too pretty, we ain't too proud
I've seen pictures of you, so I know you're not too pretty. You DO come across as awfully proud in this song, though.
We might be laughing a bit too loud
Oh, but that never hurt no one
Hurt? Maybe not. Annoyed the crap out of everyone in the vicinity? Most likely. They're probably those obnoxiously noisy teenagers sitting the next table over at a restaurant.
I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints
The sinners are much more fun
I'd say that depends on what the sin is, wouldn't you?
Said your mother told you all that I could give you was a reputation
Nah, he could probably also give you an STD.
The way this song comes across, it sounds more and more like she's rejecting this guy because he's a jerk, and just using the Catholic thing as an excuse. But maybe that was intentional. I don't know.
Anyway, here's the source of the title (WARNING: not a real video, just various old Weird Al pictures and clips):
This was one of Weird Al's early songs, before he started getting permission for his parodies. I've heard that Billy didn't like it, but I don't know for sure. While relatively mean as far as Al goes (it's one of his few parodies that directly mocks the original song, like "This Song's Just Six Words Long" and "Smells Like Nirvana"), I don't think it's really that harsh. I guess it's a bit outdated now, though. It would be years before Al released an officially sanctioned Billy Joel parody, "Ode to a Superhero" (to the tune of "Piano Man") in 2003. I've also heard tell of something called "A Matter of Crust" that he would occasionally play in live medleys, but have never heard the song itself.
And while we're on the subject of Al, here's his interview with Billy: