What does Only the Good Die Young mean?

Billy Joel: Only the Good Die Young Meaning

Album cover for Only the Good Die Young album cover

Song Released: 1977

Only the Good Die Young Lyrics

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

Well, They showed you a statue, told you to pray
They built you a temple and locked you...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    May 20th 2011 !⃝

    The Song is a short story about a teenage boy who tries to convince a teenage Catholic girl to have sex with him and how the church is stopping her from enjoying life.

    The best example of this is the lines,

    You Catholic girls start much too late,
    but sooner or later it comes down to fate,
    I might as well be the one.

    Some people also believe that the church is disgorging the girl from seeing the boy by making out he is a bad person,

    “You might have heard I run with a dangerous crowd,
    We ain't too pretty we ain't too proud,
    We might be laughing a bit too loud,
    But that never hurt no one”

    And also her own mother is stopping her seeing the boy.

    "well your mother told you all that I could give you was a reputation,
    Aww She never cared for me,
    But did she ever say a prayer for me?"

    Although there is never any hint at the religion of the boy, it is implied that he doesn’t like the Catholic faith as he refers to the Catholic faith with words like ‘you’ and ‘they’.

    Most people believe that the girl’s name, Virginia, is a play on the word ‘Virgin.
    Of course at the end of the song the boy gets nowhere and the girl still keeps her chastity (virginity)

    Fact:- The Song was banned from the radio at the time for being anti Catholic.

  2. Janice
    click a star to vote
    Jun 27th 2023 !⃝

    When I was young I saw this song as a bad man, tempting a young girl do what was wrong. But now that I'm older, I think the song represents everyone looking back on their life, that never attempted to break free of their religious and restraints. And live their life the way they really wanted to.

    I can imagine Billy Joel, finding out that Virginia had passed away when she was young, writing the song. And later, reflecting on what he's gone through in his life, he thinks to himself,
    "Maybe it's true, only the Good die Young, the rest of us have a lot to learn"

  3. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Mar 24th 2015 !⃝

    I think that this song is about a catholic nun (Virginia) and a boy who is bound and determined to change her. I think she is a nun because of the lines "they built you a temple and locked you away" however. I think that if you need to know the true meaning, find out where he lives and write billy joel a letter.

  4. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Apr 13th 2013 !⃝

    This song is about a teenage boy who wants a very religious girls to come away from her religion and live her life free and fun and not be held back by her overprotective mother (Your mother said all I could give you was a reputation. Your mother never cared for me, but did she ever say a prayer for me?)

  5. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Sep 10th 2012 !⃝


    A lesbian or bi (or another form of homosexuality) girl somehow finds out that a sweet well behaved VERY Catholic girl she knows (Virginia) is also Lesbian/Bi/Other and is very happy about that because Virginia is very beautiful and has an amazing personality. She wants her crush to come out of the closet so they can be together but Virginia feels conflicted about her sexuality because of her religion. She doesn't know what to do and is obviously distressed so the first girl sings her this song to convince her that SOMETIMES it's okay to follow her heart, no matter what the bible says.

  6. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Aug 15th 2012 !⃝

    It means that if you haven't lived your life fast paced and done some crazy things, then you haven't lived life to its fullest. Dying young in this notation would imply not dying young of age, but young in experience. Young is used as a metaphor. It is to say, in essence, that if you live safely and don't get around you won't know what life is about.

  7. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Mar 22nd 2012 !⃝

    I think that the song is about a boy trying to get a catholic girl to sleep with him and the reason he keeps saying "only the good die young" is because he is trying to convince her that if she sleeps with him and breaks away from the Catholic church that she would be "bad" and that good people are usually the first to die so she should stop being good and live her life.

More Billy Joel songs »


Latest Articles


Submit Your Interpretation

[ want a different song? ]

Just Posted

You Raise Me Up anonymous
25 Minutes Ayam
Green-Eyed Lady anonymous
Nine Ball anonymous
Slippery anonymous
This Is Not An Exit anonymous
Call It What You Want anonymous
Again anonymous
Girl Crush anonymous
Trouble is a Friend anonymous
Bird Song anonymous
Million Dollar Man anonymous
Self Care anonymous
Sweater Weather anonymous
Mommy Fwiend anonymous

(We won't give out your email)