Whatever motivates musicians to start making music or to keep going long after they could (or should) retire is a question for a generation of psychologists.
While no one will doubt that former Styx frontman Dennis DeYoung can still sing and play piano like he used, he's admits he's always wondered how much he's actually contributing to society with his chosen career path.
As a kid, Dennis started playing music to entertain his parents. He revealed to Ken Dashow's Beatles Revolution podcast the very specific reason he stuck with it through adulthood.
While you could argue as to Dennis and Styx's success in that venture, the wall of gold and platinum records in his studio shows that he at least put up a good fight.
But the sold out arenas, the millions of albums sold and the constant adulation come with some implicit guilt, he suggests. Music has a role in our world, but the more you think about what music is, the more you question why it is and what people get out of celebrating artistic achievement.
That brings us to present day. If there's one positive that has come with the novel coronavirus pandemic, Dennis says it's that people who really deserve the praise he's enjoyed for so long are finally getting it.
"With this thing that's going around the country and the world, it's the doctors, it's the nurses, it's the firemen, it's the policemen, who really go into harm's way to protect us," he says, pointing at his Chicago FD cap. "I'm not gonna diminish the value of music. I've met enough people in last 15 years of my life who ... tell me how much what I was involved in creating changed their life and made their life better..."
Of course the worldwide lockdown has people craving the escape of a great performance more than ever.
As a way of getting the word out about his new single, "The Good Ole Days," featuring Julian Lennon, Dennis treated fans to a solo, quarantine version of Styx's "The Best of Times" performed from his living room piano.
Dennis's video racked up 1 million fews and thousands of comments in just a few weeks. With all the success of his myriad career, Dennis says he's been blown away by the well-wishes and stories people have shared with over the past month via social media.
"Now, there's like 7 - 8,000 comments to boot, and I started reading them," Dennis said. "...[T]he whole idea of Styx and what it meant to them. I know that's my name [that they're writing], but I can't grasp how much love people have for this whole thing. It doesn't make sense to me."
And given the context of the times in which we live, he doesn't take it lightly.
Photo: Getty Images