Billy Joel Was Right – “WE Didn’t Start the Fire”

imageGive or take a few years, Billy Joel and I are generational buddies. I’m not a big fan but, I confess, I do have a smattering of Joel music on my iPod – including his super hit – We Didn’t Start the Fire – great tune. Still, it’s just a piece of ambiguous music – or so I thought.

Until, that is, a friend sent me a link to an ambitious video project, which overlays We Didn’t Start the Fire, with 40 years of historical (or, should that be hysterical) headlines and photos. After viewing this “flashback”, I can finally say – I “get” this tune.

I get Joel’s message – hey, don’t lay the blame for this crappy world on me, and my generation – “we didn’t start the fire, it was always burning since the world’s been turning”. Taking in the political context of the time it was made, the music and lyrics are anything but ambiguous – no doubt about it – the political message is in the music.

Politics and music, you might think, should make strange bed mates. Unless of course, your cultural background is such that political music has had a measurable impact on your world view. At a personal level (since I’m Irish), Irish Rebel songs have had more than a minor impact on the political, moral, ethical, and sociological opinions, that I hold close. The good and the bad, I’ll wager.

Music, undoubtedly, does have the power to “sooth the savage breast” – but, “political” music does not rein in emotions past that point, it seems.

If you’re part of the “hula hoop” generation; turn up the volume, kick back and enjoy a review of 40 years of your history in less than 3 minutes! On second thought – there’s more than a little educational value here which makes this project worthwhile viewing for all age groups.

Click on the graphic to link to the video.



Filed under Opinion, Point of View

8 responses to “Billy Joel Was Right – “WE Didn’t Start the Fire”

  1. delenn13

    “Politics and music, you might think, should make strange bed mates.” I have never thought that; but I grew up in the 60’s with all the war protest songs. I can remember where I was when John and Robert Kennedy was killed and Martin Luther King too.

    Here is a few(there are so many more) I can think the top of my head:

    The Byrds – Turn! Turn! Turn! – YouTube

    Barry McGuire – Eve of Destruction – YouTube

    Where Have All the Flowers Gone – Kingston Trio – YouTube

    One Tin Soldier – YouTube

    Peter Paul & Mary – Blowin in the wind – YouTube

    One of the comments from “Blowing in the Wind”..“My fourth grade music teacher was severely reprimanded for teaching this song to us; our principal said it was “subversive”. She taught us this song a few days? after a memorial service in the high school gym for a graduate who had died in Vietnam recently; they attended our school together. Shortly after her reprimand she quit teaching and joined the peace movement; I never saw her again. I learned from her example, to thine own self be true; some beliefs require, and are worth, the sacrifice.” So sad……

    They don’t write songs like that anymore. Maybe that is what is wrong with what is happening now. No one is allowed to protest without a backlash, which is sad. We have become complacent and too “politically correct” for protests.

    • Hey Delenn13,

      Great list – some amazing songs – long time “no hear.” Thanks! 🙂

      Actually met Robert Kennedy back in ’65, when he appeared as a guest speaker before my graduating class. Incredible man. Sadly missed.

      Comparisons are odious but, Newt, Ron, Bachmann, Perry…..!! Undeniable morons – each and ever one. On the other hand, since I’m not resident in the US, I must admit that I find the “Debates” vastly entertaining. Clowns being clowns.

      And yes, you’re right – “some beliefs require, and are worth, the sacrifice.” Unfortunately, the very people who should be leading by example, our elected representatives, are so far off the path that there’s little chance of redemption.

      Yep, standing up to be counted often involves ducking the bricks thrown by the opposition. Despite your teacher’s unfortunate outcome, it seems she was successful. Her views impacted you, and perhaps, others.

      Good to hear from you.


  2. delenn13

    The songs brought many a memory for me too.

    It wasn’t my teacher..that was from the comments. However, I did get a journalism teacher in some hot water and our school paper suspended for a week because of an article I wrote about the teacher strike in ’68. I sure learned about so called “freedom of the press”. Does that count?

    As far as the political buffoons we have in office, no comment. I am from The States and I just shake my head. and then, I turn to Canadian politics..and I see… the same thing. Both countries need some “new blood” or maybe at least a “new thought”.

    • Hey Delenn13,

      Yes, I saw that comment (Sorry. 😦 ) on YouTube when I downloaded (the tune – not the vid), Blowin in the Wind – listening to all those tunes just now. Still, your experience with the school paper more than counts.

      Facing off against unreasonable authority is a duty and an obligation all active citizens, in my view, have a duty to perform. Realistically however, we know that position is a pipe dream. It takes courage and perseverance – above all, perseverance – something which is sadly lacking in my circle. The status quo rules when the current economy has little or no impact on life style. Worse than sad.

      You’re right – political buffoonery has infected our whole continent. Here, in North America, we need to wake up and throw the whole lot of these institutionalized parasites out on their ass. Doing so, from a great height, would be most effective.



  3. Mal

    Hey Bill,
    Count Australia in the “need new blood” class. I have never seen a more hopeless pack of idiots running this country in my life. They do anything to stay in power, or trying to get in power, and are stuffing up this country in the process. All the blokes in our great country may as well put on a dress now, get in touch with their inner selves, hold hands and sing Kum By Yah. It’s going to happen anyway, the fools in charge will probably make it law.

    • Hey Mal,

      You sound disgusted – and, rightly so. I keep a close watch on Australian politics since I have Aussie friends – including you, of course. So, I well understand the consternation you feel.

      Disappointment and consternation at how far out of touch the political classes are – worldwide – are beginning to evolve into raw anger. The threats of violence directed against the political class (otherwise know as bone picking scavengers), and the Uber wealthy, that I see in both newspaper reader comments (worldwide), and now political commentary pieces (in which the reality of potential violence is being recognized), in such august periodicals as The Economist, and the New York Times, tell a much more impactful tale than most people will allow.

      Like it or not, the potential for violent repercussions against both politicians and the “boss” class, is staggeringly real. One spark – and it may well be – boom, boom – Sayonara. Those who have even a moderate grasp of History would do well to recount the violent revolutions that have occurred just within the last 200 years. No need to speak of the Arab Spring but, it certainly sits in the background -like a Spider in a web. We’re living in very scary times.

      BTW, I’m not sure a dress with suit you well at all. You might consider a modestly tailored suit. A soft pink might suit you well. lol

      Have a super weekend my friend. Have a couple of jars of Porter – all the World’s BS should fade into the background. 🙂



  4. Mal

    Hey Bill,
    Yeah, I am pretty disillusioned with it all. While this lot here in Australia squabble and point fingers at each other, real people are doing it tough, important issues neglected, and the list goes on. It really makes me sick.

    I guess I could put on a kilt, maybe a pink one. Mind you, if I went to the pub like that, I wouldn’t be walking out of there, more like carried on a stretcher lol.

    Cheers and lets forget about fool politicians for a few days.