Blog Roll, historical, Musical Mondays, politics

Musical Mondays | Billy Joel

This week I thought it best to bring back a perfectly political pop-rock song from 1989: We Didn’t Start the FireBilly Joel, a self-proclaimed history nut, penned his third No. 1 Billboard Hit in response to a conversation he had with Sean Lennon, where the then 21-year-old suggested it was more of a challenge to grow up in the 1980s than in the 1950s when nothing was happening in the world.  😆

Joel’s passionate epic is a lyrical recap showcasing world history over the second half of the 20th century. The rapid-fire delivery, matched with a synthesised sound and a peppy melody, timed beautifully with the ending of the Cold War, lending it anthem status. He addresses the coincidence of the timing in the video below.

A love of history didn’t negate that the song was merely a novelty to him. He liked the lyrics but felt the piece didn’t reflect who he was in the way some of his less popular offerings did.


We Didn’t Start The Fire – Billy Joel

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio
Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe
Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, "The King and I", and "The Catcher in the Rye"
Eisenhower, Vaccine, England's got a new queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana, goodbye
We didn't start the fire
It was always burning, since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No, we didn't light it, but we tried to fight it
Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc
Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, Dacron
Dien Bien Phu falls, "Rock Around the Clock"
Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn's got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland
Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Krushchev
Princess Grace, Peyton Place, Trouble in the Suez
We didn't start the fire
It was always burning, since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No, we didn't light it, but we tried to fight it
Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac
Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, "Bridge on the River Kwai"
Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball
Starkweather homicide, children of thalidomide
Buddy Holly, Ben Hur, space monkey, mafia
Hula hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go
U2, Syngman Rhee, Payola and Kennedy
Chubby Checker, Psycho, Belgians in the Congo
We didn't start the fire
It was always burning, since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No, we didn't light it, but we tried to fight it
Hemingway, Eichmann, "Stranger in a Strange Land"
Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion
"Lawrence of Arabia", British Beatlemania
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson
Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex
JFK – blown away, what else do I have to say?
We didn't start the fire
It was always burning, since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No, we didn't light it, but we tried to fight it
Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline
Ayatollah's in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan
"Wheel of Fortune", Sally Ride, heavy metal suicide
Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, crack, Bernie Goetz
Hypodermics on the shore, China's under martial law
Rock and roller, cola wars, I can't take it anymore
We didn't start the fire
It was always burning, since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
But when we are gone
It will still burn on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on
We didn't start the fire
It was always burning, since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No, we didn't light it, but we tried to fight it
We didn't start the fire
It was always burning, since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No, we didn't light it, but we tried to fight it
We didn't start the fire
It was always burning, since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No, we didn't light it, but we tried to fight it

Billy Joel has a lackluster response to the melody of this historical classic here:


I appreciate the honesty of this quote from Billy Joel. A clever and talented musician that has, no doubt and not unlike myself, enjoyed many a night laughing it up with sinners of all kinds, haha.


It’s always fun to hear people belt this song out when in a crowd! Is there a Billy Joel song that you love to sing when it comes on the radio?

This may age us but do you remember any lyrics from this lyrical tour de force?

13 thoughts on “Musical Mondays | Billy Joel”

  1. Oh, I’ve been a Joel fan for forever it seems. Two of my favorites are less known: Say Goodbye to Hollywood and Miami 2017. I love the lyrics to this one. The first few times I heard it (way back when) I never really paid attention, but once I realized what was happening–WOW!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had never heard of either of these, they are beautiful. His voice is incredible and the piano intro on Miami 2017 is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing.

      Yes, it is incredible what he managed to do with this song. Whether or not he is happy with the simplicity of the music it doesn’t take away from the artfulness of the piece, in my view.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m glad you checked them out, Peachy. Both are from one of his very early albums before he became more mainstream. A lot of that music really resonates with me.

        Like

  2. I absolutely love Billy Joel! “Piano Man,” It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” and “Just The Way You Are” are favorites. Perhaps my favorite though is “Uptown Girl” because the video with Christie Brinkley struck me as a child. I loved MTV. 😉

    Thank you for sharing this. Excellent choice as always. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I vividly remember that vid for Uptown girl and watching it on MTV. That is such an awesome song and video. The song that introduced me to Billy Joel, way back when was Piano Man. It still brings back memories of the 70s when I hear it. 🙂

      Another great one is The Entertainer. Oh, but I could go on about him forever. He was one of my first music crushes/faves.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Mae, I just got stuck listening to that one! It isn’t familiar to me. Thank you for sharing it.

        Yes, that video is one I’ll never forget. He’s an amazing artist. It’s good to know he’s one of your favorites! You should join in for Music Monday. 😉👍

        Liked by 1 person

    2. All great songs! Uptown Girl was another one that is fun to sing. I love Piano Man most from him. I was into Much Music here in Canada, but did see MTV a couple of times when we had travelled in the states.

      Thanks, glad you enjoyed it! 💜

      Liked by 1 person

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