Fame, fortune and fiction:
"Only the good die young"

Rock singer Billy Joel made the line famous, "only the good die young." He certainly isn't the only one singing that tune. Queen, Iron Maiden, and lesser knowns such as Visage, each have songs with a similar title, while deathrock group 45 Grave used it as an album title. 6 Multitudes echo their refrain in regards to hosts of topics, as shown by a quick web search of the phrase. Simply put, they've bought into a lie.

Rock music has always sold its "sex, drugs and rock and roll" bill of goods. Many of the artists have lived it to the full, trumpeting the fame and fortune that professedly goes hand in hand. The witness of a half century of artists now testifies to the truth. Live the life they're selling and odds say you'll end up dead sooner. The news headlines of this past week, "Study confirms rock stars more likely to die young", shouldn't come as a surprise.

Living fast and dying young has long been part of rock 'n' roll lore. And now there are statistics that affirm the image... Researchers at Liverpool John Moores University... studied a sample of North American and British rock and pop stars and concluded they are more than twice as likely to die a premature death as ordinary citizens of the same age.

The team studied 1,064 stars from the rock, punk, rap, R&B, electronic and new age genres in the "All Time Top 1,000" albums published in 2000. They compared each artist's age at death with that of European and U.S. citizens of similar backgrounds, sex and ethnicity.

Mark Bellis, leader of the study, said his research showed the stereotype of rock stars was true - recreational drugs and alcohol-fueled parties take a toll.

The report found that, between two and 25 years after the onset of fame, the risk of death was two to three times higher for music stars than for members of the general population matched for age, sex, nationality and ethnic background. (Article "Study confirms rocks stars more likely to die young", The Tennessean, AP, by Tariq Panja, September 6, 2007) 1

The Bible warned us of this effect long before this survey helped to confirm it...

Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (NIV) 2

Statistics don't lie: the death rate in America, and the world, is still unchanged... 100% are terminal; everyone dies. While there's no guarantee that anyone will live even another day, there are consequences to sin. Generally speaking, the more sinful the lifestyle the more probable that you reap those results sooner. Even those who think they have escaped all responsibility for their sinful acts in this life will appear before a just and righteous Judge in the next.3 Only those who have been forgiven of all their sins, through faith in Jesus Christ, will be granted eternal life.4 All others enter into eternal damnation, also called the second death.5 Contrast eternity with anything short of it. While it'll never make a good song title, this statement is true: "Only the wicked die young." In view of eternity, the righteous, made so solely by the efforts and merit of Christ, will never die!

End Notes:

1. Published articles included additional information on the nature and type of deaths studied. While alcohol and drug abuse factored highly, a majority were from other causes. Certainly suicide would have been a significant percentage.

In all, 100 of the stars studied [out of 1064] had died - 7.3 percent of women and 9.6 percent of men. They included Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. The average age of death was 42 for North American stars and 35 for European stars. (Article "Study confirms rocks stars more likely to die young", The Tennessean, AP, by Tariq Panja, September 6, 2007)

Rock stars -- notorious for their "crash and burn" lifestyles -- really are more likely than other people to die before reaching old age. ... More than a quarter of all the deaths were related to drugs or alcohol abuse, said the study in the Journal of Epidemial Community Health. "The paper clearly describes a population of rock and pop stars who are at a disproportionate risk of alcohol and drug related deaths," said Mark Bellis, lead author of the study. He said the study raised questions about the suitability of using rock stars for public health messages such as anti-drug campaigns when their own lifestyle was so dangerous. (Article "Rockstars die young..?", listed as a London "Bureau Report", by Zeenews.com, September 4, 2007)

The so-called "crash and burn" lifestyle isn't limited to the music industry. Hollywood has created its fair share of similar stars. Perhaps further studies will confirm what appears evident; they too are reaping what they sow.

2. Also...

Romans 8:13-14 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (NIV)


2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (NIV)


Acts 10:43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name." (NIV)

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)


Revelation 20:14-15 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (NIV)

6. To see how the message of "only the good die young" has been sold through the music industry, these of the lyrics of the aforementioned songs. All are copyright material and are provided here only for critical examination under the fair use clause of the copyright act.

Only The Good Die Young
Artist: Billy Joel

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 away
Aw, but they never told you the price that you pay
For things that you might have done.....
Only the good die young
that's what I said
only the good die young x2

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

So come on Virginia 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 x5 )
I tell ya
only the good die young x2

You got a nice white dress and a party on your confirmation
You got a brand new soul
mmmm, And a cross of gold
But Virginia they didn't give you quite enough information
You didn't count on me
When you were counting on your rosary
(oh woah woah)

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...

you know that only the good die young
oh woah baby
I tell ya
only the good die young, X2

You say 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? oh woah woah

Come out come out come out Virginia don't let me wait,
You catholic girls start much too late
Sooner or later it comes down to fate
I might as well be the one,
You know that only the good die young

I'm telling you baby
You know that only the good die young
Only the good die young
Only the gooooooooooooooood
Only the good die young
Only the gooooooooooooooood
Only the good die young
Ooooooooooooooooooooooooo ooooooooooo oooooooooo...

(Only the good die young) x2

The next song is the only new song created and recorded by the remaining three members of the British rock band Queen after the death of lead singer Freddie Mercury. While it is said that the impetus for the song was the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, it is also believed to be a eulogy for Freddie Mercury himself, as one who died before his time.

No-One But You (Only The Good Die Young)

A hand above the water
An angel reaching for the sky
Is it raining in heaven -
Do you want us to cry?

And everywhere the broken-hearted
On every lonely avenue
No-one could reach them
No-one but you

One by one
Only the Good die young
They're only flying too close to the sun
And life goes on -
Without you...

Another Tricky Situation
I get the drownin' in the Blues
And I find myself thinkin'
Well - what would you do?

Yes! - it was such an operation
Forever paying every due
Hell, you made a sensation
You found a way through
One by one
Only the Good die young
They're only flyin' too close to the sun
We'll remember -

And now the party must be over
I guess we'll never understand
The sense of your leaving
Was in the way it was planned?

And so we dress another table
And raise our glasses one more time
There's a face at the window
And I ain't never, never sayin' goodbye...

One by one
Only the Good die young
They're only flyin' too close to the sun
Cryin' for nothing
Cryin' for no-one
No-one but you

Only The Good Die Young
Artist: Iron Maiden

The demon in your mind will rape you in your bed at night
The wisdom of ages the lies and outrages concealed
Time it waits for no man
My future is revealed
Time it waits for no man
My fate is sealed

If I cancel tomorrow the undead will thank me today
Fly in the space of your prophets I mock your morality plays
The moon is red and bleeding
The sun is burned and black
The book of life is silent
No turning back

Only the good die young
All the evil seems to live forever
Only the good die young
All the evil seems to live forever
Only the good die young
Only the good die young

Mystery madman a victim of cruel charade
Some innocent pawn in an end game one more stalemate
Is death another birthday?
A way to kiss your dreams goodbye?
Do the undead live within us?
And look through our eyes?

Walking on water are miracles all you can trust
Measure your coffin does it measure up to your lust
So I think Ill leave you
With your bishops and your guilt
So until the next time
Have a good sin

Only the good die young
All the evil seems to live forever
Only the good die young
All the evil seems to live forever
Only the good die young
Only the good die young

Seven deadly sins
Seven ways to win
Seven holy paths to hell

Seven downward slopes
Seven bloodied hopes
Seven are your burning fires
Seven you desires...

Visage - Only The Good (Die Young)
Artist: Visage

A blade in the back, don't please attack
A knife in your back, won't fight back
A blade in our back, go go attack
A knife in your back, please fight back
Harder they come run boy run
Fight fight stand by your rights
He's too young to die, he hopes but still tries
And that what a rebel cried
Only the good die young
Only the good die young
Survive staying alive
Alive we will survive
Only the good die young
Crawl into a coffin six feet in the ground
Down down don't want him around
Don't break his bones find he's not stone
You know you'll never hurt him
Stronger they come they think they have
But no they haven't killed him
Life without time, that just a crime
A life time without mercy
You said to achieve it's not just a dream
But the good die young

The last referenced group, 45 Grave, didn't have a song with this title; rather it was the title of a complete album. The included song titles on the deathrock (or Gothic) "Only The Good Die Young" also speak volumes...

1. Insurance from God, 2. Take Five, 3. Bad Love, 4. My Type, 5. Dream Hits, 6. Consumers, 7. Sheila, 8. Sorceress, 9. Death March, 10. Journey's End, 11. F***ed by the Devil, 12. Evil, 13. Partytime, 14. Black Cross, 15. Wax, 16. Akira Raideen.

Written by Brent MacDonald of Lion Tracks Ministries. (c) 2007
Duplication permitted as long as the source is cited.