We Didn’t Start the Fire

“Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio…”

Sure, it would be easy to write off Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” as a novelty song… pop music’s answer to REM’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It”, but you’d be wrong.

It couldn’t have been easy for Mr. Joel to take 40 years of world history and boil it down into a remarkably singable tune, but lo and behold, he did.

Starting in 1949 and continuing straight through the end of our favorite decade, the song touches on just about everything, from Marilyn Monroe to AIDS, from Joseph Stalin to Watergate.

True 80s die-hards can muddle their way through most of it without missing a beat, but we remain impressed if you can fake your way through even part of it:

“We Didn’t Start the Fire” wasn’t just a history lesson, it was also a perfectly fun pop song. When all was said and done it spent 19 weeks on the Billboard charts, including two weeks at #1 in December 1989. Alas, though, it was the last time Mr. Joel ever reached the top spot.

We never envied him when he had to sing the song in concert, but we’re sure glad he wrote it in the first place.

We ♥ We Didn’t Start the Fire.

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~ by weheart80s on August 17, 2011.

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