45RPM: Only the Good Die Young

Where I match a song to a specific memory

Boston is a bar town.  I realize the case could be made for many other cities being “a bar town” but Boston has the Irish heritage, a compact and walkable city, a ton of colleges and–if I have to pull out the big guns–the city is the setting for the longest-running TV series ever to take place in a bar.  So take that, other bar towns.

There is a bar for everyone in Boston.  You’ve got your posh bar, your intellectual bar, your hip bar, your sports bar, your college bar, your dance music club bar, your local band bar, your neighborhood bar, your punk rock bar, your dive.  I’m sure I’m forgetting a few categories.  But let me tell you, in any of the bars in Boston that played music, this song was beloved at the turn of the millennium.  I can’t tell you how many times I was chatting with friends over a beer on a Friday or Saturday night and felt the transformation.  Before Billy Joel gets through the first line, “Come out Virginia, don’t even wait,” a cheer of joy went up from the women in the crowd.  I think it had to do with  the vast numbers of (possibly formerly) Catholic (definitely formerly) Girls in the crowd–Joel’s next line is “you Catholic girls start much too late”–but I think it also has to do with being out with friends and being reminded of that not-quite-appropriate guy who wants you to experience things you haven’t yet experienced, but wouldn’t mind doing.  There’s a gleeful freedom in this song that just beckons.

Second place in the beloved Boston bar songs at the turn of the millennium:  “Come On Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners.  It has one of the most honest lyrics every sung by a man:  Come on Eileen, I swear on my knees/at this moment, you mean everything.

2 thoughts on “45RPM: Only the Good Die Young”

  1. My Billy Joel song moment comes from my senior year of college, when I was working at an Arby's, and "Piano Man" came on the radio while we were prepping the store one morning. We all walked around, doing our respective jobs, singing along to the song. I still think of it every time I hear it.

  2. I would guess just about everyone of a certain age has a Billy Joel song on their life soundtrack. River of Dreams is mine.

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