"We Didn't Start the Fire" as written by and Billy Joel....
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, Krushchev
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, Charlse de Gaulle, California baseball
Starkweather, homicide, children of thalidomide

Buddy Holly, "Ben Hur", space monkey, Mafia
Hula hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go

U2, 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
JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say

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

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
Will it 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


Lyrics submitted by kevin, edited by Moustacher

"We Didn't Start the Fire" as written by Billy Joel

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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We Didn't Start the Fire song meanings
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114 Comments

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  • +4
    General CommentActually, in his box set, on the fourth disc, he discusses this song and says that We Didn't Start The Fire is NOT so much about history as a whole, but about HIS life and the things that had happened since his birth. He says that he tried to pick things that were important to HIM, but that the beginning of the song was simply created when he asked himself who the President was at the time of his birth... Harry Truman... and who a famous acress was... Doris Day.
    fletch699on April 15, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General Commenti love this song, it's awesome..how can no one have commented on it yet? well it's obviously about history..yeah gotta love billy joel!!
    KDCurly87on January 27, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song got me hooked on the one and only Billy Joel. I remember sitting on my brothers bed when he turned on the song...and I just sat there in amazement...I had to be like 5 or 6 or so at the time, and I couldn't stop singing, "We didn't start the fire..."

    BILLY JOEL ROCKS MY FACE!

    -Heather-
    Heather Surfpicoon June 30, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is good stuff. My history teacher brought the song in one day and we were listening to it in class. My teacher LOVES this song because of course, he teaches history.

    But anyway, this song has some great lyrics to it.

    :)
    pinkrose209on May 29, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Commentbasically, this song rocks my socks
    mocoohay_taon June 07, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMost of the things mentioned in the song are controversial issues... at least thats what my dad said to me when i asked! but from wat i know of the events its pretty much true... and then he could b saying that there will always b those kind of things... yea...
    OpiSccr565on July 12, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe line is "Rock and Roller, Cola Wars" Remember that whole battle with Pepsi and Coke and then New Coke? That is what he is talking about...or so I think
    eaglesfan81on March 22, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI admit it. I started the fire.

    It feels good to get that off my chest.
    Derek8581on February 08, 2007   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationWe Didn't Start The Fire by Billy Joel is an abnormal but enjoyable song that stands well on its own. Among other topics, the song addresses how history always heads forward, that history moves quickly, and that perspective shapes how one looks at history.

    The song shows how history is something that has been, and will continue to trudge forward. The iconic line “we didn’t start the fire” (Billy Joel), with “the fire” being interpreted as the flurry of events that make up history, shows very clearly the idea that history is something that is not unique to our life times. This idea is conveyed metaphorically by the steady pace of the song. As Billy Joel lists people and events he maintains a steady pace. This reflects how history does not speed up or slow down. It merely moves forward.

    The song also conveys the idea that history moves rapidly and does not linger too long at one point. The song has a fast and upbeat pace that is constantly moving to reflect the fast pace of history. Many people and events that had huge and relatively long lasting impacts are given no more than a second before being shoved aside by the next topic. Things like the Suez Crisis, which was a major conflict that included many major world powers, is noted only as “Trouble in the Suez” (Billy Joel). This rapid movement shows how even the largest historical events eventually become no more than notes in history. Their impacts and importance fade over time until the majority of them are forgotten.

    The last, and most important, thing that this song shows is how perspective shapes how we view history. The entire song is written through the lens of Billy Joel. The song starts in 1949, the year Billy Joel was born, and continues to what was present day at the time of writing. Billy Joel wrote the song by thinking of what was happening when he was born, then just moving forward in time with events that were important to him. The part is that he chose things important to HIM, not just major history events. This means that events like the release of “Peter Pan” (Billy Joel) are given just as much note as things like the “water gate” (Billy Joel) scandal. By using the lens of his own perspective Billy Joel sends a powerful message about how we view history and helps us look at history from the perspective of those in history rather than the present.

    Billy Joel’s hit song We Didn’t Start the Fire is an exciting and rhythmic exploration of recent history, but underneath the surface it also an excellent portrayal of history as a whole.
    Using meaningful topic selection and melodic strategies the song is able to express the steady and fast nature of history as well as remind us to be aware of our own modern perspectives when judging those of the past.
    skellyton3on May 27, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti was always amazes at how he mentions so many people and still got it all to rhyme and/or sound really good together. wow...great song.
    weezerific:cutleryon March 22, 2002   Link

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