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?

Blog Roll, Musical Mondays

Musical Mondays | Barry McGuire

Eve of Destruction, written by P.F. Sloan and performed by Barry McGuire, is a classic protest song from the ‘Sixties that rings eerily truthful these days. The lyrics say everything that needs to be said, in the here and now, almost sixty years later.

This gritty and once imperfect song (see video below) became an anthem to antiwar hippies and college students speaking out against the Vietnam War. Though I’ll never tire of hearing the ominous drum intro, I’m not eager to appreciate it finding contemporary relevance again.


Eve of Destruction – Lyrics

The Eastern world, it is explodin'
Violence flarin', bullets loadin'
You're old enough to kill but not for votin'
You don't believe in war, but what's that gun you're totin'?
And even the Jordan river has bodies floatin'

But you tell me over and over and over again my friend
Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction

Don't you understand what I'm trying to say?
Can't you feel the fear that I'm feeling today?
If the button is pushed, there's no running away
There'll be no one to save with the world in a grave
Take a look around you boy, it's bound to scare you, boy

But you tell me over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction

Yeah, my blood's so mad, feels like coagulatin'
I'm sittin' here just contemplatin'
I can't twist the truth, it knows no regulation
Handful of Senators don't pass legislation
And marches alone can't bring integration
When human respect is disintegratin'
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin'

And you tell me over and over and over again my friend
Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction

Think of all the hate there is in Red China
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama
Ah, you may leave here for four days in space
But when you return, it's the same old place
The poundin' of the drums, the pride and disgrace
You can bury your dead but don't leave a trace
Hate your next door neighbor but don't forget to say grace
And you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend

You don't believe we're on the eve of destruction
You don't believe we're on the eve of destruction

When the Berlin wall fell, which some considered the symbolic end to the cold war, I had just become a teenager. My limited political knowledge came from Much Music videos (Canadian MTV, of the day), and I hadn’t the slightest idea what it was all about, but I recall watching the news and soaking up the giddiness of the occasion.

It is surreal to be entering the time warp that is Cold War with Russia, merely needing to look to the art canon for salient expression, older generations no doubt with a prevailing sense of déjà vu. 

I hope to take solace in the robust and emotionally charged works that are sure to flourish during these noxious times, turning darkness into light, as only the vulnerability of art can do.

Creators,
right now,
across the globe,
birthing new ideas,
countless mediums,
finding ways to let out our collective sigh of exasperation, 
attempting to balance the scales,
mourning the death throes of humanity.

If there is no love to be had, let us bear fruit in creation.

Below Barry McGuire explains how they recorded Eve of Destruction in one take, and goes on to share how the song was written into the history books.


What are some antiwar songs that you have on your playlist?

Are there songs that you associate with conflict and war that you still like to hear?