Give 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.