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Only the Good Die Young: A Catholic Girl’s Review

“Come out Virginia, don’t let me wait

You Catholic girls start much too late

Aw, but sooner or later it comes down to fate

I might as well be the one…

Only the good die young!”

Every time this song comes on, I crank the volume way up and totally jam out. I literally know every single word. It’s so clever! And catchy! And it’s Billy Joel!

“But Kaitlin,” you say, “You’re pretty much the very ‘Catholic girl’ Billy is mocking in this song. How can you love it?” Well, that’s actually why I love it. (Other than the fact that it’s sung by one of the best rock and roll artists of all time.)

This song makes me smile because it reminds me exactly what the rest of the world thinks about Catholic morality, and it’s funny to me! I want to meet Virginia and give her a high five. She stuck to her guns long enough to get him to write a song about her. That’s so awesome, even if it was mockery.

The song was banned by many radio stations for being anti-Catholic. In response to that, Billy Joel said, “When I wrote ‘Only the Good Die Young’, the point of the song wasn’t so much anti-Catholic as pro-lust… the minute they banned it, the album started shooting up the charts.”

But whatever Billy’s intention was behind the song, we can all agree on one thing: those are some bad-ass lyrics. He does directly say “you Catholic girls,” so maybe I should be personally offended. But he’s just so wrong that it’s funny instead of offensive. Let’s check it out.

“You got a nice white dress and a party on your confirmation. You got a brand new soul, and a cross of gold.”

Okay Billy, time to learn about the sacraments. You wear a white dress for your Communion. You get a new soul for your Reconciliation. But yes, I did get a cross of gold for my Confirmation…

“You didn’t count on me when you were counting on your rosary.”

This part you got 100% right. And it’s a damn good thing! If Virginia counted on you, odds are she would end up broken and alone. Counting on Mama Mary is a lot more reliable. You can’t argue with that.

“Well your mother said that all that I could give you was a reputation. Oh she never cared for me. Did she ever say a prayer for me?”

Actually, Billy, she probably did. My mom prays for me that I make good choices. But she also prays for the people around me that she would probably consider bad influences. She realizes that she might be one of the only people actually praying for them. But I guess I didn’t know Virginia’s mom. Maybe she did just want you to go away.

“You Catholic girls start much too late.”

I guess here it depends what you mean by “start.” Have sex for the very first time? Possibly. But Catholic girls “start” really early if we’re talking about getting married. Hey I’m getting married at 22! I feel like my life is starting super early. But if high school is the time to start having sex, then yeah, we start a little late. But no one regrets not having sex with those awkward, drooling, high school boys when they look back. I think we start right on time.

And finally:

“Only the good die young.”

I used to think that this line held some truth to it. When you watch those around you die way before it’s their time, it’s always the good ones. But that doesn’t really fit in this song so that’s probably not what Billy’s talking about. No, this is meant to suggest that when good people die, they don’t have as many experiences or as much mileage on them, making them “young.”

Again, if we’re talking about the number of times we’ve had sex, I don’t think waiting until marriage really throws the numbers off. Actually, thinking about it logically, I’d guess that married people have more sex in their lifetime. Even though you may start having sex later, your frequency of sex would be much higher when you have the same person to come home to every night. (There are some stats on this page to support that hypothesis: http://www.kinseyinstitute.org/resources/FAQ.html#frequency)

But let’s be serious, it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. And married people who are concerned about the feelings and desires of the other person are just going to have better sex.

Sorry, Billy. Awesome tune. Sick rhyming. And yet, very incorrect. But thanks for reminding me what the world thinks of us Catholic girls. Just gives us the fuel we need to keep being who we are.


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