Song Lyric Sunday – “We Didn’t Start The Fire”

Kudos to Jim Adams for his SLS topic this week. I had a bunch of songs running through my head the instant I saw it – Burn/Fire/Flame. If you want to check out how to get involved in this amazing challenge (started by Helen Vahdati) or you just want to check out other song choices, be sure to visit Jim’s blog “A Unique Title For Me“.

Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire was released in 1989 from the album “Storm Front” and reached No 1 on the Billboard Top 100 that year.

It is basically a rapid-fire list of events which happened during the first 40 years of Joel’s life. He said in an interview that the idea came to him when he met a friend of Sean Lennon who was complaining about turning 21 in the late 80s and saying that Billy couldn’t understand it because he grew up in the 50s and nothing happened then.

I have seen Billy Joel perform this song in concert and he has described it as a “train-wreck” if he missed just one word. The concert also featured Elton John and between their solo sets, they had two grand pianos on the stage. John’s was equipped with a teleprompter and Joel had a large binder which he explained was filled with his lyrics. He had tried using a teleprompter but said he got mesmerized by the screen and forgot where he was!

The song has been used in History classes and as practice for rappers (I found this out from a CD with Q&A sessions Joel did at various Universities over the years). If you are super interested, click on the Wikipedia link below and you will find all of the references listed in the song!

Lydia!

We Didn’t Start The Fire

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 CrockettPeter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland
Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Khrushchev
Princess Grace, Peyton Place, Trouble in the Suez

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, Zhou 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
U-2, 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
J.F.K. blown away, what else do I have to say?

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 shores, 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…
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
We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning since the world’s been turning

Songwriter: Billy Joel
https://genius.com/Billy-joel-we-didnt-start-the-fire-lyrics
Info: Wikipedia,  personal knowledge

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8 Replies to “Song Lyric Sunday – “We Didn’t Start The Fire””

  1. This song is even more impressive now that I’ve read the lyrics. I just can’t catch them all listening to it, but oddly enough could sing it as I read. My pick would be “Before I Walk On Fire” by Sophie B. Hawkins:

    I lied
    I stole in the name of fear
    But I won’t be silent here
    I don’t want somewhere to run to
    I don’t want somebody I can shake
    Lord I want my dignity again
    Before I walk on fire
    You gotta look me in the face
    I won’t flinch
    And I won’t turn away
    I’m sorry
    I’m sorry for being scared
    But I won’t drop you there
    Oh darling
    Let me show you I love you
    Oh world
    Let me show you I care
    I don’t want somewhere to run to
    I don’t want somebody I can shake
    Lord I want my dignity again
    Before I walk on fire
    You gotta look me in the face
    Give me back my touch
    Give me back my feeling
    Give me everything
    I want to be your witness
    I want you to believe in me

    Liked by 1 person

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