“We Didn’t Start the Fire” is a song by Billy Joel that makes reference to a catalog of headline events during his lifetime, from March 1949 to 1989, when the song was released on his album Storm Front. The events are mixed with a refrain asserting “we didn’t start the fire”. The song was a number-one hit in the U.S.
The song and music video have been interpreted as a rebuttal to criticism of Joel’s Baby Boomer generation, from both its preceding and succeeding generations. The song’s title and refrain imply that the frenzied and troubled state which others were criticizing had been the state of the world since long before his generation’s time, but that this was being ignored by their critics.
Joel explained that he wrote this song due to his interest in history. He commented that he would have wanted to be a history teacher if he had not become a musician. Unlike most of Joel’s songs, the lyrics were written before the melody, owing to the somewhat unusual style of the song. Nevertheless, the song was a huge commercial success and provided Billy Joel with his third Billboard #1 hit.
Although the song ranked #1 in the U.S., and #7 in the UK, Blender magazine ranked “We Didn’t Start the Fire” #41 on its list of the “50 Worst Songs Ever”. “We Didn’t Start the Fire” also appeared in the same spot on VH1‘s 50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever, a collaboration with Blender in 2004.
This song could be classified as a patter song characterized by its moderately fast tempo with rapid succession of rhythmic lyrics.
Billy Joel We Didn’t Start The Fire
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