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Only the Pig Tastes Good:
Thoughts on Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young”

[1]2,352 words

Like a lot of kids in my town growing up, I was really into the music of Billy Joel. There was a period in my early teens in which I listened to almost no one else. I loved the attitude, the craft, the variety, the cleverness. And I have to give Joel credit for being the first pop star to whom I seriously listened and whose work I avidly collected. Before hearing his classic album 52nd Street (on vinyl – yes, I am that old), I was completely indifferent to music. Afterwards, I was a different boy. I guess I still am.

By college, I had gotten a little tired of him, and stopped listening for almost two decades. But once I had kids, that all changed. As they got into him, I started to get back into him as well. Sure, he has a lot of clunkers. But when Billy Joel is on, he’s actually pretty good, and I find my adult mind appreciating aspects of his music that the young adult version of myself never did.

“Okay, Spence, this is nice,” I hear you say. “But what does this have to do with White Nationalism, race realism, or saving the white race from extinction?”

Well, after having Billy Joel on my mind a lot lately, I came to realize that one of his vintage songs from the 1970s is actually an insidious little dig at white people. It kills me to think that I have been listening to this song for thirty years and I never noticed it until recently. That’s how inured I was (or I guess still am) to the contempt that some non-whites have for whites as a people.

Yes, I am talking about his top-forty hit from 1978, “Only the Good Die Young [2].”

Now, this is an ingenious pop song. It’s got a great shuffling beat, catchy hooks, a blistering sax solo, and a pretty mesmerizing bass line, if you listen carefully. The lyrics, however, are what really set the song apart. There’s nothing like it anywhere else. Basically, it’s about a guy trying to goad a Catholic school girl named – fittingly enough – Virginia into having pre-marital sex. It’s an invitation to sin, and it’s remarkable because the girl being invited has never sinned before – at least not in this context. And the song, in its sheer exuberance, seems to celebrate this. At least in “Jumpin’ Jack Flash [3]” you get a feeling for the tragedy and danger involved when the song’s character embraces evil. “Only the Good Die Young,” however, doesn’t call for that kind of introspection. It simply tries to make sinning seem cool while blithely trashing a central tenet of Catholicism.

It’s a famous song, so I am sure many of us know the lyrics. But here are the opening lines for those of us who don’t:

Come out, Virginia, don’t let me wait
You Catholic girls start much too late
Oh, 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 away
Oh, but they never told you the price that you’d pay
For things that you might have done

Only the good die young

Here’s another verse which underscores my earlier point:

They say there’s a heaven for those who will wait
Some say it’s better but I say it ain’t
I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints
The sinners are much more fun

The song was released as a single and immediately drew the ire of Catholic groups, which saw the song as being anti-Catholic. The Archdioceses of St. Louis and Boston put enough pressure on radio stations to effectively ban the song in those cities. Joel also received death threats, especially before playing in St. Louis in 1978.

This may sound harsh, but in reality the Catholic blowback was so feeble that Joel didn’t take it seriously. He played the song twice in St. Louis, and later wrote letters to Catholic officials asking them to ban more of his records.

Joel himself says the song is lighthearted and is pro-lust rather than anti-Catholic. Here’s an interview [4] which tells his side of the story. But what can’t be denied is that the song shows contempt for a religion to which millions of whites have been adhering for two thousand years. Being born Jewish, he may think this is no big deal, but to someone who takes Catholicism seriously, it is. Further, one can criticize or even condemn Christianity for many legitimate reasons, but its proscriptions against pre-marital sex shouldn’t be one of them. This is one instance in which the Christians get it right, since pre-marital sex (among young adults at least) often leads to illegitimacy and the spread of disease, which in turn contributes to poverty and the breakdown of marriages. This is dysgenics in action. Over time, it can bring down entire civilizations. The white illegitimacy rate was in the single digits when Joel was a kid in the 1950s. Now, it is at twenty-nine percent. Apparently, Joel thinks this is less important than singing songs about wanting to get his rocks off with a girl in knee socks and a plaid skirt.

There are plenty of songs in rock-and-roll which celebrate lust. But as far as I know, “Only the Good Die Young” is the only major mainstream rock song that explicitly repudiates Christianity while doing so. This is not an overstatement. Joel denies the existence and purpose of Heaven, he derides things like chastity and prayer, and he openly advocates sinning. What else does he need to do? I would argue that even John Lennon’s “Imagine” is less offensive to Christians, since “Imagine” simply extols the virtues of atheism and a particularly globalist ethical framework. One can be sold on that or not. But what “Imagine” doesn’t do is exhort people to violate ancient and fundamental precepts of their religions in the here and now. It also doesn’t call out a particular religion by name while doing so.

Billy Joel might argue that I am taking his song too seriously or literally. But I will argue that he didn’t take the idea of deflowering pious Catholic girls too seriously, because he never gave a shit about Catholicism to begin with. If he did, he wouldn’t have written the song at all, or he would have taken a more laissez-faire approach to the girl in question, as in in “Wouldn’t It Be Nice [5]” by the Beach Boys or (arguably) “Art Lover [6]” by the Kinks. Satirist Tom Lehrer also takes on Catholicism in his song “The Vatican Rag [7],” but unlike “Only the Good Die Young,” this song is truly lighthearted (“2-4-6-8, time to transubstantiate!”). It doesn’t instruct Catholics to turn their back on their religion or paint Catholicism in a negative light. It just has some fun at the religion’s expense. You’d have to be a little uptight to take offense at that sort of thing. Not so with “Only the Good Die Young.”

Then there’s the pedophilia angle. I understand that Joel is no pedophile, but come on, how could he have been comfortable singing a song about wanting to fornicate with underage girls? “You got a nice white dress and a party on your confirmation,” he sings. In the United States, at least when I was growing up, Catholic kids were in their early-to-mid-teens when they got confirmed. The most charitable interpretation of this song is that the main character is also underage and is ogling his Catholic crush during chemistry class, or wherever. But Joel establishes no context in the song to remove any doubt. Furthermore, he was thirty when the song came out. The main character of the song is just too worldly for me to believe he’s sixteen.

I can thus totally understand why Catholics were so miffed at Joel for writing it. Perhaps the archdioceses shouldn’t have tried to ban the song since, by the Streisand Effect, banning it only caused it to race more quickly up the charts. But some kind of resistance, I believe, was in order. And such resistance is the point of this essay.

Better late than never, right?

If white people back in 1978 had taken racial offense at Joel’s song, that probably would have done more to squelch its popularity than trying to ban it. Back then, nearly all Catholics in the United States were white. Despite its Semitic origins, Catholicism was and still is one of the oldest extant institutions based in Europe. Again, it’s not above fair – or even withering – criticism for its past and present sins. But it cannot be denied that for centuries it helped structure the lives of millions of white people in a positive way. It provided the inspiration for some of the greatest works of art and music ever conceived. Further, the Vatican acted as a bulwark against numerous Islamic invasions of Europe. White people of any religious stripe should have interpreted “Only the Good Die Young” as a smack in the face of one of their own, and they should have responded in kind.

The first response should have been calling Billy Joel a racist. Whether or not this is true is immaterial. The point is to sting your attacker, not to be accurate. Remember, people on the Left routinely accuse people on the Right of racism and rarely care to get their facts straight. So why should we? Being Jewish, Billy Joel is a member of an out-group which deliberately causes trouble for in-group members. He wasn’t talking about Jews or other non-whites. No, he was only talking about white people, and cheering on their moral and evolutionary decline. Hence racist. Such a counter-attack would have damaged his reputation at least a little and served to discourage other people from taking unmotivated swipes at white religions.

The second response should have been for all high-level priests and Christians with influence in politics and the media to organize and do the following:

Oh, wait. I’m sorry, I was mistaken. This was actually how Jewish groups successfully lobbied [8] to the get the immensely popular TV program Bridget Loves Bernie cancelled after only one season in 1973. They even made bomb threats. My bad. Far be it for whites to ever try to emulate Jews in the culture wars. It’s not like Jewish methods actually work or anything.

Seriously, is there any reason why whites should keep their gloves on while Jews insist on keeping theirs off? Can anyone defend this blatant double standard?

Finally, we should fight fire with fire. If no white Christian songwriter is willing to step up and hit back at Joel with an original song, then the least we can do is twist his song around for our purposes. Below is my stab at that. Perhaps those of us who are musical can take this version of “Only the Good Die Young” and run with it on YouTube or social media. Afterwards, we’ll see if the Jews can take it as well as they can dish it out.

Introducing “Only the Pig Tastes Good” by Billy Joel and Spencer J. Quinn. Enjoy.

Mama always told me, don’t eat with a yid
Those bland kosher dishes gonna bring out your id
You can’t have shellfish, you can’t have squid
Might as well chew on wood

Your mom is Rebecca, your daddy is Harv
They gave you a Seder and told you to starve
Oh, but they never gave you a pig to carve
You know that you would if you could

Only the pig tastes good
That’s what I said
Only the pig tastes good
Only the pig tastes good

Can you smell that bacon crackling in its fat?
That’s called a banger and that’s called a brat
My spiced pork loin’s a real coup d’etat
Tastin’ like a real meal should

So kick out your kugel, and ditch the knish
Stop stuffing matzo in gefilte fish
Time to start noshing on a ham and swish
I hope that I am understood

Because only the pig tastes good
I tell you only the pig tastes good
Only the pig tastes good

You ate a leather-tough brisket on Purim with a hamantaschen
I know that you find faults
cooking latkes in schmaltz
And now I find myself laughing at your deep frustration
Oh, you eat like a Jew
While I was eating at the barbecue

Ooh, wooh, wooh

They say you remember all the Hebraic guys
Who fled so quick that the bread couldn’t rise
So now you’re stuck with food that you despise
I hope that I am understood

You know that only the pig tastes good
Oh, oh, baby
I tell you only the pig tastes good
Only the pig tastes good

You say your Rabbi told you that you gotta stay away from the crustacean
Oh, but did he care for you
While you were gagging on your herring stew?

Eww, Eww, Eww

There’s no such thing as kosher gourmet
The Jewish tradition is old anyway
It might be better to throw it away
I hope that I am understood

You know that only the pig tastes good
Tell ya, baby
You know that only the pig tastes good
Only the pig tastes good
Only the pig
Only the pig tastes good

Only the pig tastes good
Only the pig tastes good

Spencer J. Quinn is a frequent contributor to Counter-Currents and the author of the novel White Like You [9].