You're Only Human (Second Wind)

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"You're Only Human (Second Wind)"
Single by Billy Joel
from the album Greatest Hits - Volumes I & II
B-side "Surprises"
Released 1985
Format 7"
Recorded 1985
Genre Pop rock
Length 4:48 (album version)
4:21 (single version)
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Billy Joel
Producer(s) Phil Ramone
Billy Joel singles chronology
"Keeping the Faith"
(1985)
"You're Only Human (Second Wind)"
(1985)
"The Night Is Still Young"
(1985)

"You're Only Human (Second Wind)" is a song written in 1985 and performed by Billy Joel. The subject of the song is teenage depression and suicide. The song originally appeared on Billy Joel's Greatest Hits in 1985 and became a top ten hit, peaking at #9 on the Billboard chart.

Joel, who had once attempted suicide himself, stated in a 1985 interview that he wrote the song as a way to help young people struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide.[1] In his original draft, he was concerned that the song sounded too depressing so he re-wrote it with a bouncy, joyous beat and melody with lyrics that stressed personal forgiveness and optimism about life. Joel donated all the royalties from the song to the National Committee for Youth Suicide Prevention.[2]

During the song, Joel audibly laughs after briefly hesitating and stuttering during one of the verses. At the prompting of Paul Simon and Christie Brinkley (who were listening in the studio), he decided to keep it in the recorded version as it seemed to illustrate his point in the song about personal fallibility.[1]

Music video[edit]

At the beginning of the video, Joel plays "Piano Man" on his harmonica. The entire video pays homage to It's a Wonderful Life, as the angelic Joel shows a young man - who's about to jump off a bridge because of a break-up with his girlfriend - what life will be like without him, as his family and friends mourn his death - as well as showing him the joys in his future he'll be missing if he dies (e.g. high school graduation, marriage). The video ends with the man choosing to live, and reconciling with his girlfriend.

One of the extras in the music video is Adam Savage who would later gain fame as a special effects artist and the co-host of the popular science television show MythBusters.[3]

The video was shot on Staten Island and Manhattan and features landmarks such as the 59th Street Bridge and Monsignor Farrell High School.

Single and album edits[edit]

The single version is nearly 30 seconds shorter than the album version, removing the sax solo between the bridge and the third verse.

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1985) Peak
position
Australian Singles Chart 6
Canadian Singles Chart[4] 15
Dutch Singles Chart 22
New Zealand Singles Chart 17
UK Singles Chart 94
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 9
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 2
U.S. Billboard Top Rock Tracks 26

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Campbell, Mary (1985-09-05). "Billy Joel sees self as working homebody". Kentucky New Era. Retrieved 13 April 2011. 
  2. ^ Marlene Aig (1985-07-23). "Joel to Aid Teen Suicide Prevention Program". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved 2010-04-03. 
  3. ^ "Adam Savage, Co-Host". The Discovery Channel. Retrieved 2009-05-09. 
  4. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2012-01-08.