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It is quite obvious that not only good people die young because for that to be accurate, all young people have to be good and living longer implies a person is bad. The song “Only The Good Die Young” by Billy Joel is often misinterpreted as only good people die young and has since become an anthem for those who do. To me, the song means that people die in a sense where they no longer believe in their own views but instead, what people tell them to believe.
The song is not so much about physical death, but the death of individuality and innocence. Religion usually is not tied to individualism because people tho follow a certain religion often have the same beliefs. The song has a heavy presence of religious belief and in this case, catholicism. Catholicism is heavily based on the bible and its word that is “error-free” (“Basic Beliefs of Catholicism”). In the song, Billy says, “Well they showed you a statue/ Told you to pray/ They built you a temple and locked you away” (Billy Joel). Joel is referring to the statue of Jesus Christ that resides in Catholic churches (“Catholic Answers”). There is also a verse that states, “But Virginia they didn’t give you quite enough information” (Billy Joel). Young people are being fed information on what to believe and while that is happening, they are being sheltered by the same people who tell them these things. He feels that Virginia does not know how to have fun because she’s being held back by the church and its beliefs because she does not know the whole story as to why she is accepting the religion. The song could also be interpreted as peer pressure in the sense that he is attempting to get Virginia to have sexual intercourse with him.
The catholic belief regarding sexual intercouse should only be between a man and woman who are married (Ortiz). A verse in the song says, “They say there’s a heaven for those who will wait/ Some say it’s better but I say it ain’t” (Billy Joel). Virginia is described as a very conservative Catholic girl so he is trying to convince her that breaking the rules for him will not be a big deal. He wants Virginia to experience his way of life and ignore everything she has been taught as a Catholic girl. Individuality and innocence is taken away from young people because they try to please their elders and follow what they tell them is right. Either a person has their own views or not, attempting to change them to benefit yourself will not always turn out the way you want it to.
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