|Billy Joel – We Didn't Start the Fire Lyrics||6 years ago|
We 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.
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