Sunday, August 10, 2008

Number 469 - Billy Joel

Number 469

Billy Joel

"We Didn't Start the Fire"

1989: Billy Joel records a song called "We Didn't Start The Fire". Now this song is no ordinary song, it is more of a statement speaking against his own generation, "The Baby Boomers" [1943 to 1960] for becoming morally corrupt. I am from Generation X [1961 to 1981], so personally i find this song amusing, if not just to think of my peers as "morally corrupt". I don't feel that the generation before me are morally deficient, i actually think they have more morals than my own generation and a 100 times more than Generation Y! [1982 to 1994] In fact, the greatest invention the "baby boomers" gave us all, was their very own "Pop Culture" that they moan about the most. If the "baby boomers" are to be blamed for anything, it is their driving yearn for greed.
So it makes you wonder how did some "boomers" ever become hippies? And if Billy Joel feels he [his generation] didn't start the fire, then who the bloody hell did?
wanna play?
Joel fired his longtime manager and former brother-in-law Frank Weber in August of 1989, after an audit revealed that there were major discrepancies in Weber's accounting. Following Weber's dismissal, Joel sued Weber for 90 million dollars, claiming fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. Immediately after filing suit, Joel was hospitalized with kidney stones. All of this turmoil didn't prevent the release of his 12th studio album, Storm Front, in the fall of 1989. It was preceded by the single "We Didn't Start the Fire," whose lyrics were just a string of historical facts. The single became a huge hit, reaching number one and inspiring history students across America. Storm Front marked a significant change for Joel -- he fired his band, keeping only Liberty DeVito, and ceased his relationship with producer Phil Ramone, hiring Mick Jones of Foreigner to produce the album. Storm Front was another hit for Joel, reaching number one in the U.S. and selling over three million albums. ~ [Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide]
History [?]
Where is my piano, man?
Joel explained that he wrote this song due to his interest in history. He commented that he would have wanted to be a history teacher had he not become a rock and roll singer. Unlike most of Joel's songs, the lyrics were written before the melody, owing to the somewhat unusual style of the song. Nevertheless, the song was a huge commercial success and provided Billy Joel with his third Billboard #1 hit.
"We Didn't Start the Fire" was written by Joel after a conversation with
John Lennon's son Sean. Sean was complaining that he was growing up in troubled times.
Although the song ranked #1 in the
U.S, and #7 in the UK,
Blender magazine ranked "We Didn't Start the Fire" #41 on its list of the "50 Worst Songs Ever". "We Didn't Start the Fire" also appeared in the same spot on VH1's 50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever, a collaboration with Blender in 2004 ~ [Source:Wikipedia]
Side note: In Ricky Gervais's stand-up show Politics, he references the song, saying "It's basically a list", then quoting the first verse and commenting, "That's not a song. That is a conversation with Rain Man."
For more Billy Joel see Number 849
For John Lennon see Number 492 & #639
For Doris Day see Number 961
For Elvis Presley see Number 501 & #840
For Chubby Checker see Number 743
For Bob Dylan see Number 491, #841 & #929
What does Rolling Stone think about Billy Joel?
On Storm Front, his first studio album since The Bridge in 1986, Billy Joel throws off pop complacency for an angry, committed – and often moving – exploration of life in modern America. Defining the album's theme of lost innocence is a core of songs that evokes the desperate disorientation that has suffused American consciousness over the past decade. Storm Front's aggressive tone is immediately established by the surging slide guitar and growling blues harp that kick off "That's Not Her Style," the record's opening track. But the album gets down to business with its second cut, "We Didn't Start the Fire."
Storm Front's propulsive first single, "We Didn't Start the Fire," sounds the alarm on a society that has lost its moral center and is spinning out of control. Telescoping forty years of history into a feverish, chronological roll call of political leaders, pop icons and world events, Joel charts the steady erosion of our national spirit since 1949 – incidentally, the year of his birth. The singer captures the carefree mood of '49 in the first of a series of musical time capsules: "Harry Truman, Doris Day, red China, Johnnie Ray/South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio." But as the song rushes toward the present, it catalogs the crises that have compromised our dreams. Ending with a spirit-crushing litany of contemporary social horrors – "Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, crack, Bernie Goetz/Hypodermics on the shores, China's under martial law" – Joel shouts, "I can't take it anymore!" ~ [Source:Rolling Stone 1989]
Rolling Stone magazine deemed their '469th Song of all Time' was "Its Too Late" by Carole King. Carole King has appeared in The Definitive 1000 @ Number 808
Other songs with reference to Billy Joel #590, #610, #668, #752, #777, #961
Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs ranked this song at Number (Not this song) and the Album ranked at (& definately not this album!)
This song has a crowbarred rating of 76.5 out of 108

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