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Billy Joel - You're Only Human (Second Wind) (1985)

  • Video Views 3,808,853
  • 80's Score 80's score: 1.35
  • Find this song on: Music Stack

"You're Only Human (Second Wind)" is a song written in 1985 and performed by Billy Joel. The song deals with teenage ...

"You're Only Human (Second Wind)" is a song written in 1985 and performed by Billy Joel. The song deals with teenage depression and suicide. It originally appeared on Billy Joel's Greatest Hits in 1985 and became a top ten hit, peaking at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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. 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. The song was originally simply titled "Second Wind", but Joel changed it to "You're Only Human" with "Second Wind" as a subtitle after drummer Liberty Devitto mocked the name. Joel donated all royalties from the song to the National Committee for Youth Suicide Prevention.

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 finished song as it seemed to illustrate his point in the song about personal fallibility.

Music video

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 suicidal young man threatening 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 when Billy Joel plays "Piano Man" once again before giving him his harmonica.

One of the extras in the music video is Adam Savage, who later gained fame as the co-host of the popular science television show MythBusters.

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

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