ST. LOUIS – Musician and songwriter Billy Joel is extensively considered one among America’s most beloved artists. A Rock and Roll Corridor of Famer and multi-time Grammy Award winner, 11 of Joel’s 13 studio albums went platinum (promoting 1 million copies); and of these 11 albums, 9 went multi-platinum.
However within the late Seventies, a track that may turn into a staple of Joel’s live shows would put him at odds with some Catholics throughout the nation, together with Archbishop of St. Louis John Carberry.
By the summer season of 1977, Joel was laborious at work on his fifth studio album – “The Stranger.” His earlier album suffered underwhelming gross sales and, on the time, Columbia Music thought-about dropping Joel from its label.
Joel wanted “The Stranger” to be a hit – and it was. Six of the album’s 9 tracks would later seem on Joel’s “Biggest Hits – Quantity I & II” compilation.
One track, specifically, was impressed by an outdated highschool crush named Virginia Callahan. Her identify appeared within the opening traces of the track “Solely the Good Die Younger.”
“Come out Virginia, don’t let me wait … You Catholic women begin a lot too late.”
Joel penned the track from the viewpoint of an keen boy making an attempt up to now a lady he likes. Because the woman rebuffs the narrator’s advances, the boy suspects it has one thing to do along with her upbringing however pursues her anyway.
“They are saying there’s a heaven for many who will wait … Some say it’s higher however I say it ain’t … I’d reasonably snigger with the sinners than cry with the saints … The sinners have way more enjoyable.”
“The Stranger” was launched on Sept. 29, 1977. Columbia Data launched “Solely the Good Die Younger” because the album’s fourth single in Might 1978, proper behind the eponymous monitor. By this time, the album had already peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and different singles on the album, “Simply the Approach You Are” and “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Tune,” had faired fairly properly on the Billboard Scorching 100.
As “Solely the Good Die Younger” started to obtain wide-scale airplay, the president of Seton Corridor College, a personal Catholic establishment, took umbrage with the one being performed on the college’s radio station and banned the track. Archbishop Carberry could be the subsequent to name for a widespread ban of the track. The Archdiocese of Boston quickly adopted go well with and was joined by Catholic teams throughout the nation in opposing the track.
In a 2008 interview with Oprah Winfrey and a 2013 interview with the journal Performing Songwriter, Joel insisted the track was extra “pro-lust” than something and unrequited pangs of rising up.
However in an amusing coincidence, makes an attempt to ban the track had the alternative impact. “Solely the Good Die Younger” debuted at No. 74 on the Billboard charts. However by the week of July 8, 1978, the track peaked at No. 24.
When Joel performed at The Checkerdome that October, he claimed to have obtained demise threats warning him in opposition to taking part in the track. Joel went on to carry out “Solely the Good Die Younger” twice on the live performance. He allegedly informed the viewers “don’t take —- from anyone” earlier than leaving the stage that evening.
Joel in the end noticed the humor within the scenario and in interviews stated he wrote letters to the president of Seton Corridor and the archbishops of St. Louis and Boston to thank them making “Solely the Good Die Younger” a business success and requested if they’d take into account banning future songs.