Why Did Billy Joel Write We Didn’t Start the Fire

Aired on November 10th in 1989, the song “We Didn’t Start the Fire” is a thought provoking song composed by pop figure Billy Joel. Being an episode of the “Storm Front” music broadcast, it touches different aspects of life that influenced the singer. One of the greatly inspiring songs in the music world, it is interesting to learn about the context showering light as to what exactly inspired Billy Joel write that fabulous lyric.

The song alludes to headline events from March 1949 through 1989. The refrain contained in the song’s title mentions “the fire”, a reference to sociopolitical strife in the region; Joel posits that his generation alone can’t be solely accounted for this.

Billy Joel Writing Why Did Billy Joel Write We Didn’t Start the Fire

Exploring the Reason for Writing the Song

The question, “Why did Billy Joel Write “We Didn’t Start the Fire?” Joel once answered that he had written the song in view of his immense attachment with the history. Actually, he has been reported to have once mentioned in an interview that if he were not a musician, he would rather love to be a history teacher. Just after the song was released, its arresting melody and thematic lyrics quickly received the attention of the audience. The song projected its zenith to the peak music charts in the U.S. history.

The Grammy Awards acclaimed the song, was indeed justified. The song was recommended for the esteemed ‘Record of the Year’ class. Similarly, it also remained the third number one hit in Joel’s career. A music video, directed by Chris Blum, was developed for the song. The video highlighted a middle-class couple aspirant of an indescribable American Dream. Also, this video showered light on a turbulent society over the course of the latter half of the 20th century.

Other Important and Interesting Facts about the Song

The distinguished pattern employed to write this composition was termed as “stream of consciousness”. It consisted of myriads of contrasting images united within a semi-sung, half-spoken and rapid-spark style of musical notes.

The song has various types of historical happenings codified in the lyrics featuring hot sport related issues, foreign business and popular recreation. On the whole there are 121 events featured of which the World Series championship run of the New York Yankees led by Joe DiMaggio, the introduction of the gossip column in newspapers and the award-winning Broadway musical “South Pacific.”

There are certain interesting events from olden times talked about in other verses of the song such as the fame of Marilyn Monroe, the tension between North Korea and South Korea as well as the advent of television as a highly productive device for advertising business.

Moreover, it also gave an account about the demise of the philosopher George Santayana, the victory of Rocky Marciano against Jersey Joe Walcott and the controversial novel “The Catcher in the Rye,” by J. D. Salinger. Other significant historical developments mentioned in the song feature the Death of Albert Einstein, the death of U.S. actor James Dean and the opening of Disneyland.

Filed Under: History

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