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View Full Version : What's the expression mean: "Only the good die young" ?



small axe
04-29-2009, 09:53 AM
I know it's a Billy Joel song ... but it got me thinking, and it's open to shades of meaning, isn't it?

"Only the good die young" ???

What's that mean to you?

Because I was going to do a play on that, twist it, and have one vampire quip to another vampire:
"Only the young die good"

... meaning that living inherently corrupts us all. They're not evil because they're vampires, they're evil because they just live longer than we do, but we'd ALL be as bad as they were too.

And then it hit me: I have the TWIST on a phrase which I don't know what the ORIGINAL means! :Shrug:

So ... can anyone help by just offering what it means or could mean to YOU? Let's see what the expression CAN mean ...

Koganei
04-29-2009, 10:24 AM
I think it means that the people who stay good and proper don't "live life to the fullest", and as such, remain in a state of innocence, in a state of youthful inexperience.

bettielee
04-29-2009, 10:33 AM
I'm going to live forever.

Ol' Fashioned Girl
04-29-2009, 03:24 PM
Google, Grasshopper. It is your friend.

regdog
04-29-2009, 03:43 PM
It means all of us old, cranky, jerks are going to live forever http://i94.photobucket.com/albums/l117/regdog/smiley-signs136.gif

Wayne K
04-29-2009, 03:56 PM
It means that it's amazing how many beautiful people die young, simple.

backslashbaby
04-29-2009, 04:11 PM
" ‘Whom the gods love, die young’ was said of yore,
And many deaths do they escape by this:
The death of friends and that which slays even more,
The death of friendship, love, youth, all that is,
Except mere breath. And since the silent shore
Awaits at last even those whom longest miss
The old archer’s shafts, perhaps the early grave,
Which men weep over, may be meant to save.

Romantic Heretic
04-29-2009, 07:45 PM
It means people who try to be good, wise and kind piss off people with power and then the good people get nailed to a piece of wood.

Most human beings envy the truly good, if not outright hate them. Evil we can handle, and even like if its our evil. But the truly good annoy everybody.

rhymegirl
04-29-2009, 10:46 PM
It means only the good die young.

So you might as well be bad if you want to live for a long time.

NeuroFizz
04-29-2009, 11:04 PM
It's a warning followed by a command...

Sargentodiaz
04-29-2009, 11:42 PM
I know it's part of a song lyric but I'm positive it comes from an older work - I just can't find it on a quick Google search.

Koganei
04-29-2009, 11:55 PM
Hey, I did a quick google search and found these:

http://qandablog.typepad.com/questions_and_answers/2005/05/only_the_good_d.html

http://www.songmeanings.net/songs/view/149/

that'll probably help in some way or other :)

semilargeintestine
04-30-2009, 12:36 AM
It means good people die young and assholes live forever. Spend some time in an emergency room and you'll see this is true. Drunk driver vs. family of four. Everyone in family of four is either dead or severely injured. Drunk driver walks away fine every time. Never fails.

NeuroFizz
04-30-2009, 01:09 AM
In partial answer to the original question, and I don't know if this has been mentioned upstream, see the lyrics to the song, "Abraham, Martin and John." Go here:

http://artists.letssingit.com/dion-lyrics-abraham-martin-and-john-wphd6kx

Ken
04-30-2009, 01:29 AM
just as a a reality check ...
The good do not die young, in an actual sense, but live far longer than the bad who live life in the fast lane, ravaging their minds and bodies with drugs and potentially toxic tete a tetes. The bad may seem cool and fun to be with but that is only because they are high on something half the time. I'd personally rather spend my time with someone who is dull and boring, than someone who is as phony and fake as a three dollar bill that's been rolled up.

Sorry for the preachin'. Have just seen too many lives laid to waste because of drugs and booze, including those of friends :-(

semilargeintestine
04-30-2009, 01:31 AM
Just like mine was generalising, so is that. I too have lost people to drugs, but I have seen far more innocent people taken by assholes who walked away clean.
[/jaded_rant]

Ken
04-30-2009, 01:37 AM
... your point about innocent people falling pray to collateral damage by druggies is an entirely valid one. Don't be so quick to write it off as a generalization, or mine, either. There are lots of stats to support these views, sad to say.

jodiodi
04-30-2009, 05:10 AM
Good people are usually selfless and more prone to self-sacrifice; they wouldn't lie and cheat to save their own lives and fortunes; hence, the good are likely to die younger than the ones who run and hide, take everything for themselves, leave others out in the cold in order to save themselves.

The 'bad' prey on the 'good' in order to further their (bad) interests.

William Haskins
04-30-2009, 05:43 AM
it means if you live past 18, you're a bad person.

C.bronco
04-30-2009, 05:52 AM
I remember a priest doing a sermon on this song when I was in middle school. He was pretty upset about it, especially the "You Catholic girls start much too late,
It's better to laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints,
The sinners are much more fun" part.

The song is like the Andrew Marvell or JohnDunne poems. The speaker is trying to woo a girl into ...things.

Williebee
04-30-2009, 06:11 AM
The bad may seem cool and fun to be with but that is only because they are high on something half the time. I'd personally rather spend my time with someone who is dull and boring, than someone who is as phony and fake as a three dollar bill that's been rolled up.

You have a daughter who reads these boards, don't you? :)

Worth noting that not everyone who lives "bad" is a fake and a phony. It doesn't even have to make them dishonest. There are real bad guys out there, too.

Kind of like:
What bugs me isn't that bad things happen to good people. It's that good things happen to bad ones.

benbradley
04-30-2009, 06:30 AM
In partial answer to the original question, and I don't know if this has been mentioned upstream, see the lyrics to the song, "Abraham, Martin and John." Go here:

http://artists.letssingit.com/dion-lyrics-abraham-martin-and-john-wphd6kx
That's interesting, I heard that son on the radio when it was popular (not long after Martin's death), have heard it a few times since, and always heard that line as "it seems good they die young" and I never understood why it was good that they died young! Did anyone else hear it that way?

Here it is:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dHvYB5JdSs
But then it didn't scare me nearly as bad as this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8SfiCnwF28


But then to REALLY die young you have to be in rock'n'roll as were Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, Cobain and many others who died under age 30.

rhymegirl
04-30-2009, 06:32 AM
it means if you live past 18, you're a bad person.

Uh oh. I'm bad.



Guessing that way over 18 is REALLY BAD.

DL Hegel
04-30-2009, 07:26 AM
Uh oh. I'm bad.



Guessing that way over 18 is REALLY BAD.

bad is the new good.

benbradley
04-30-2009, 07:29 AM
To the OP's question, I've always though it (much as in the Billy Joel song) means something similar to "No good deed goes unpunished," it's just another one of the ironies of life.

Pilot
04-30-2009, 07:39 AM
Uh oh. I'm bad.
Guessing that way over 18 is REALLY BAD.

By that measuring stick, if you're bad, I must be awesomely evil!

Koganei
04-30-2009, 10:31 AM
Does that mean the oldest person on Earth is close to evil incarnate? :O
We must kill it perhaps?

Pilot
04-30-2009, 11:32 AM
Does that mean the oldest person on Earth is close to evil incarnate? :O
We must kill it perhaps?

Well, just for the record, ya ain't after me. My neighbor's got me beat by 20 years. http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/icons/icon10.gif

8thSamurai
04-30-2009, 01:57 PM
I'm with your initial thought - anyone who's lived life cannot be completely pure, especially when it comes to life experiences, and the extremist view of 'purity' (OMG you have sex for any other reason than children!? SINNER!)

Wayne K
04-30-2009, 04:22 PM
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
aw But that never hurt no one

Wayne K
04-30-2009, 04:23 PM
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...

rhymegirl
04-30-2009, 04:51 PM
Wayne will live to be 100.

Wayne K
04-30-2009, 05:09 PM
So come on Rhymegirl show me a sign
Send up a signal I'll throw you the line
The stained-glass curtain you're hiding behind
Never lets in the sun
Darlin' only the good die young
woah
i tell ya
only the good die young x2

rhymegirl
04-30-2009, 07:26 PM
Wayne, I've got a long life line. Wanna see my palm?

small axe
05-01-2009, 04:26 PM
Yeah, reading everyone's comments, it's still as complex and perplexing as I figured it was! :) But thanks for all the suggestions and insights! It certainly does seem like the song might be a reference to some older saying or quoting a work ... I'll have to really sit down and try to track them down!

More than a few times, I've thought I tracked a modern quote back a few centuries ... only to find that the previous writer, being from an era where most had deep educations in the Classics, was only quoting something in far older Greek or Latin himself!

Anyway, thanks again for the help!

veinglory
05-01-2009, 06:22 PM
It is a common condolance offered to those who lose children. The idea is that those who are very virtuous are taken up to God earlier. It is an attempt to explain why God would "punish" the good as well as the bad: ""the good die young and the wicked flourish as the green bay tree".

WendyNYC
05-01-2009, 06:38 PM
I remember a priest doing a sermon on this song when I was in middle school. He was pretty upset about it, especially the "You Catholic girls start much too late,
It's better to laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints,
The sinners are much more fun" part.

The song is like the Andrew Marvell or JohnDunne poems. The speaker is trying to woo a girl into ...things.

What? You mean it's not a coincidence her name is "Virginia?"

Yes, I've always interpreted the song to mean, "Hey, baby, let me in your pants. What's the point of being good? Saints and martyrs die young."