We Didn’t Start The Fire – Billy Joel

THIS DAY IN MUSIC……………………………………..on December 9th of 1989 Billy Joel tops the Billboard Chart with the single “We Didn’t Start The Fire”. The lyrics are a stream of consciousness list of events that Joel felt his generation was not responsible for. A lot of the references are to the Cold War (US vs. Russia), a problem his generation inherited. In the liner notes of Piano Man: The Very Best of Billy Joel, Joel explains that he wrote this song after a conversation with John Lennon’s son Sean. The rapid lyrics style was first used in a pop song by R.E.M. in “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).” Before that, Bob Dylan did something similar on “Subterranean Homesick Blues.”Joel wrote the lyrics first, which he rarely does. He says that is why the song has no melody. Joel told Billboard magazine: “It’s terrible musically. It’s like a mosquito buzzing around your head.” This is a very popular song, and while Joel doesn’t consider it one of his favorites and admits it has no melody he does like the song. He does, however, have a hard time remembering all the words when he performs it in concert and has even looked to audience members mouthing the words to the song to pick up the lyrics. He is often asked if he is going to write a sequel with updated lyrics, but he has no plans to. This was Joel’s third US #1 hit. His previous two were “It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me” and “Tell Her About It.” “The River Of Dreams” hit #1 six years later. Until the final stanza, every two lines represents a year; the song opens in 1949, the year Billy Joel was born. The song reached #7 in the UK.