"This is another song that is autobiographically written by Brett about his heroin addiction. The character Billy Gnosis has the same initials as Brett. This is Brett writing about how heroin can destroy a person who people think of as strong, but in fact everyone is incredibly fragile and it is tragic when they are not helped to overcome their problems (as he was)."
"Are we sure it is about Mr. Brett? Be careful. You (above) are basically stating your assumption as fact (unless you know something that I don't about Brett's personal life). I think even in 1989, Brett had overcome many obstacles, and had still managed to be successful as a musician. Certainly his life was not 'tragically wasted'. Perhaps 'Billy' is an example of what could have possibly happened to Brett, or anyone else who had been in Billy's position."
"I think it is a bio of Brett. Even if it was after his addiction. He just ended the lyrics in a way of how his life could have been, & very likely was for many of his addicted friends."
"Jwhite_tx, hello again. Well, I'd say that Jakass is right on saying that the song it's a satire on Brett because Greg himself said that it was intended to represent Brett, just like Billy Gnosis. Now, I do disagree with Jakass in the fact that he said that this was an 'autobiography' of Brett's life. I think he meant to say 'biography,' because if it had been an autobiography, it'd mean that Brett wrote it, and I believe that he didn't and it was Greg. Therefore, it's a biography, and not an autobiography."
"You can't say that 'Billy' is a biography about Brett. Those who write biographies have to make at least attempt to present fact. Billy may be instead a homology."
"Billy may not be so special, but there's a weird feeling in that song. In some way, I found out what it was about before reading the text. It got a very mysterious touch in it, it's so sad in someway. It's about how stupid Brett was back when he started with drugs, how it was exciting in the beginning, but then it turned out to a complete disaster, of which he couldn't get out of (he couldn't break the chain of slow decay that seemed to drag him), and he exchanged his friends for a needle (probably for heroin or something) and a spoon (spoon with drugs, you know). Brett is not very kind about himself in this song, and the main solo riff is unforgettable. Yet, this song is pretty unknown, but popular anyway in the fan links.
'Billy' has given me hope so many times in my life. I don't drink, and I always felt like an outsider, but after Billy, I felt strong and I could for the very first time be proud to not drink or use drugs.
Therefore, Billy is always going to mean something special to me."
"FYI, users typically liquefy heroin in a spoon before injecting it, hence the 'needle and a spoon.' I had heard the song was about Brett, but perhaps it was inspired by Brett but deals with a fictional subject undergoing an all-too-common experience. Just a thought."
"This song is about Mr.. Brett. He said it himself. Also look at Brett's past he was addict to heroin as well as crack. Brett has also referred to himself as Billy on other albums. On into the unknown he is called Billy gnosis. On the process of belief the song 'you don't belong' talks about many people in the old punk scene such as 'Rodney played our records'- from Rodney on the roq, and 'Milo went to college but you knew that' refers to Milo from Descendents. Brett makes refers to himself again as Billy 'when he says Billy went to court on a class on possession', this is speaking of his drug problems"
"They actually sing 'went to COUNTY', but it's pretty much the same I guess. But I think that you're right, Billy is Brett, and that's it."