Poll: Does "We Didn't Star the Fire" have good lyrics?
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Yes, the best
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1 50.00%
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Average
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Poor and nonsensical
50.00%
1 50.00%
Total 2 vote(s) 100%
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Why Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" is stupid
#1
He says we didn't start the fire, like it's about problems we inherited, confirmed in that meaning when he says WE TRIED TO FIGHT IT.

Then he starts just listing anything or anyone, good or bad that will rhyme or fit into the rhythm. It's ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS TO SAY TO TRIED TO FIGHT:
Doris Day, Johny Ray, Joe DiMaggio, Studebaker, Television, South Korea, Sugar Ray, The King and I, Brando, Liberace, Toscanini, Chubby Checker, U2!! And on and on with this ridiculous song!!!!!!!!!!! It is the stupidest piece of crap ever and people just seem to ignore how pathetically dumb it is. Why???????? What the hell is wrong with Rock Around the Clock????? Eintstein???? Brooklyn having a winning team????????????????????????????? I have to say -- I'm close to truly hating anyone who likes this song...but I won't go that far. Just WAKE UP and realize how awful this is. It's even worse that so many people love it. Billy Joel indiscriminately listing all these great things that are part of our culture, our lives, MY LIFE!!! Oh, if only one person would agree i could relax. LOL


Below are lyrics for your review.

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

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

Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac
Sputnik, Chou 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
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#2
I think it's a great track. Has a good vibe about it. And it's a hundred times better than any bloody rap song I have ever heard. Now THERE'S a place to find crap lyrics if you ask me.
'The purpose of life is a life of purpose' - Athena Orchard.
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#3
I totally appreciate you noticing and responding to my rant. Have a great day!
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#4
And you are right - the song does not make any sense at all - but it just works??!!?? For me anyway.
'The purpose of life is a life of purpose' - Athena Orchard.
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#5
You are both right. It's better than most rap - but it's still a crap song.

If the lyrics are actually supposed to be sending some kind of message, then I don't know what it is. He just seems to name-check every single element of US culture from the 1950s onward. Is it good? Is it bad? Are we supposed to get angry about it? Are we supposed to celebrate it? Billy Joel doesn't say. That's what makes the song a rather pointless gimmick.

"The Message", by Grandmaster Flash, was a much better message song.

Billy Joel has written far better songs, both musically and lyrically, than this. Even some better "message" songs. Allentown, for example.
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#6
Another one with a true and "real message" - and also a great melody: Honesty...
But I wouldn't say WDSAF is among the worst when it comes to lyrics and the song is still quite ok.
For the OP to answer, is there a certain reason this song is being analysed and judged?


bob_32_116 Wrote:You are both right. It's better than most rap - but it's still a crap song.

If the lyrics are actually supposed to be sending some kind of message, then I don't know what it is. He just seems to name-check every single element of US culture from the 1950s onward. Is it good? Is it bad? Are we supposed to get angry about it? Are we supposed to celebrate it? Billy Joel doesn't say. That's what makes the song a rather pointless gimmick.

"The Message", by Grandmaster Flash, was a much better message song.

Billy Joel has written far better songs, both musically and lyrically, than this. Even some better "message" songs. Allentown, for example.
Reply
#7
a brief summary of the song, then the full wiki meaning of it...

just a Billy turned 40 he met Sean Lennon who had just turned 21 at the time,
Sean remarked something like "man it sucks being 21" and Billy thought back to when he was 21 and said to Sean
"man it sucked when I was 21, we had the Cold War, Vietnam etc"
he then went back over his life from 1949(his birth year) and made a list of famous people, movies, writers, events etc that
shaped every year from '49 to '89 and came up with the song....

the "we didn't start the fire" chorus was basically him saying "don't blame us,we tried to fix it/solve it", as in the "we didn't light it but we tried to fight it" lines...

its not one of my favourite BJ tracks but its probably the cleverest set of lyrics he ever wrote.

BTW, in 1990-95 the song itself formed part of an English literature degree at several Universities in the UK,
he is not the first musician to have that honour bestowed upon him by UK Universities,
several of Lennon's lyrics from 67-71 have also been the subject of the UK educational curriculum as has the writings of Bob Dylan.

anyway,
heres the full Wiki article on "we didn't start the fire" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_Didn%27...t_the_Fire
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#8
bob_32_116 Wrote:Billy Joel has written far better songs, both musically and lyrically, than this. Even some better "message" songs. Allentown, for example.

Allentown is probably my favourite track by Billy and the album it came off, The Nylon Curtin, is also my favourite album of his....
well, apart from "Pressure" which I wasn't a fan of as a song, but the lyrics were still pretty good.
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#9
CRAZY-HORSE Wrote:heres the full Wiki article on "we didn't start the fire" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_Didn%27...t_the_Fire

Thanks. Yes, I had already read through that article and several others about it. My point is that Billy Joel included a whole bunch of positive and good people and things such as Doris Day and the King and I, and many more. How are they relevant to the things "we tried to fix" and we "tried to fight" it? He just leafed through a memorabilia book and jotted down a bunch of stuff, good and bad, and made it rhyme. It is simply not consistent. I believe, and have read, that the reason it has been used for school classes is that it contains a lot of historical references which can spark ideas and discussion, not because it is considered to be great literature.
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#10
MFS Wrote:For the OP to answer, is there a certain reason this song is being analysed and judged?

I'm new here. What sort of reasons are expected in order to start a thread?
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