Songs I Can't Stand #4 - "We Didn't Start the Fire"

@teamfreak16 (40947)
Colorado Springs, Colorado
February 19, 2017 8:35am CST
Even though it might seem like a safe pick if you really think about it, it's not. I'm taking on a popular song by a legendary musician: #4 in my Songs I Can't Stand series is "We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel. If we lived in England, he'd be Sir William Joel by now, so popular is the man. Instead, Billy Joel was born in The Bronx and entered the music business in 1965. Six time Grammy winner Joel is the 6th best selling recording artist and 3rd best selling solo artist in the United States. He has sold over 150 million records worldwide, and is in the Rock and Roll, the Songwriter's, and the Long Island Music Hall's of Fame. Joel's 1989 album, Storm Front, was an international smash, reaching #1 in both the US and UK, and Top 5 like, everywhere else. Sales wise, the record achieved either gold, platinum, or multi platinum, again, pretty much everywhere. Those astonishing sales were spurred on mightily by "We Didn't Start the Fire," which hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Top 10 in seven other countries. The song was nominated for three Grammy Awards. (Unfortunately, for some reason, I can't find any sales figures. Suffice it to say that a lot of people bought it.) In the song, Joel rattles off, quickly, over 100 historical events that took place from 1949 and 1989, including famous names from the same time period. Clever, or something that sounds extremely hastily written? I'm taking the second option. Joel himself has called "We Didn't Start the Fire" a "novelty song" because he didn't care much for the music, which sounds to me like a wannabe 80's keyboard oriented new wave dance band trying to fit into the current trend. It's well produced, but just feels "off." In fact, you know what this has always felt like to me? The record company demanded a pop radio hit, and Joel said "Ok, here you go" with "don't blame me" under his breath. And yet somehow it worked anyway. Give me "Zanzibar" right now, if you don't mind. Please? (Info verified by Wikipedia)
In 1989, Billy Joel released his Grammy Nominated album Storm Front. Watch the official music video for his #1 Hit Song "We Didn't Start the Fire." http://sm...
19 people like this
19 responses
@FourWalls (13370)
• United States
19 Feb 17
I guess he figured if R.E.M. could get away with listing things in a song ("It's the End of the World As We Know It [And I Feel Fine]") he could, too. About the only good thing I can say about this song is it inspired a great parody about the Cleveland Browns on Cowherd's show.
SUBSCRIBE to get all the latest content from The Herd: https://www.youtube.com/colincowherd?sub_confirmation=1 In honor of another horrible Browns season, Bi...
4 people like this
@teamfreak16 (40947)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
19 Feb 17
I never heard that before very clever. And so true. I have always felt badly for their fans. I mean, we thought we had it bad with QB's while Al Davis was still alive.
1 person likes this
@JolietJake (51170)
• United States
19 Feb 17
We sure thought about starting it though...but arson and murder nixed that idea...
4 people like this
@teamfreak16 (40947)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
19 Feb 17
Good one!
2 people like this
@JohnRoberts (54670)
• Los Angeles, California
19 Feb 17
I consider marrying Christie "Uptown Girl" Brinkley the greatest achievement of Billy Joel.
2 people like this
@teamfreak16 (40947)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
19 Feb 17
No kidding. I still wonder how he pulled that off.
1 person likes this
@JohnRoberts (54670)
• Los Angeles, California
19 Feb 17
@teamfreak16 Rockers always get supermodels! The perks!
1 person likes this
@DWDavis (10773)
• Pikeville, North Carolina
19 Feb 17
Imagine her shock when she sobered up and realized what she'd done.
2 people like this
• Richfield, Utah
19 Feb 17
I like that song, but I get why some people dont
2 people like this
@teamfreak16 (40947)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
19 Feb 17
I understand. We can't all like the same songs anyway. It would be boring.
3 people like this
@JohnRoberts (54670)
• Los Angeles, California
19 Feb 17
@teamfreak16 Even if I state hating a particular song or artist, I never put down a person for liking them as I am sure many people dislike my favorites. We all have different tastes.
3 people like this
@teamfreak16 (40947)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
19 Feb 17
@JohnRoberts - Took me awhile, but I got what you're saying. I didn't mean to do that.
1 person likes this
• Bournemouth, England
19 Feb 17
You're right about the knighthood, he might even have been Lord Joel of Uptown. Apart from a few tracks (Anthony's Song, It's Still Rock And Roll To Me, one or two more) I have never been that keen on his stuff.
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (40947)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
20 Feb 17
"Uptown." I see what you did there. Brilliant!
1 person likes this
• Bournemouth, England
20 Feb 17
@teamfreak16 Took me a while to think of a song of his with any sort of place name in the title.
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (40947)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
20 Feb 17
@asfarasiknow - 52nd Street would have been pretty funny as well.
1 person likes this
@Corbin5 (103428)
• United States
19 Feb 17
I despise this one!! To me, all I can say is it is one very "dumb" song.
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (40947)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
19 Feb 17
Believe it or not, Joel said he wrote the song because he's a bit of an historian.
2 people like this
@teamfreak16 (40947)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
20 Feb 17
@DWDavis - Now that you mention it, it would make a good teaching aid.
2 people like this
@Kandae11 (35967)
19 Feb 17
I love the song, haven't paid much attention to the words.
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (40947)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
19 Feb 17
The overall consensus so far is that it's still a very popular song. Which I actually do understand. He is Billy Joel, after all!
1 person likes this
@Kandae11 (35967)
19 Feb 17
@teamfreak16 But don't you think the tune is very catchy and the arrangement good?
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (40947)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
19 Feb 17
@Kandae11 - Yes, it's a catchy tune, for sure. But even he said he didn't care for the arrangement. I don't know, I just think he has done a lot of superior material during his career.
1 person likes this
@egdcltd (6609)
19 Feb 17
I have to say, I liked this song. In fact, I may have actually bought the single (and my singles purchases over the years don't reach double digits!).
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (40947)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
19 Feb 17
Oh, you may very well have. It was an extremely popular song that obviously sold a lot of units.
1 person likes this
@egdcltd (6609)
19 Feb 17
@teamfreak16 I seem to recall Madonna had a song out around the same time that seemed similar - a list of things. Vogue, I think.
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (40947)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
19 Feb 17
@egdcltd - You're right, that totally was "Vogue."
1 person likes this
@crossbones27 (19233)
• Redlands, California
20 Feb 17
I think that is how many radio hits start, make this or else you are dropped.
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (40947)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
20 Feb 17
I think so, but it seems kind of weird to do that to Billy Joel. But that's my theory.
1 person likes this
• Redlands, California
20 Feb 17
@teamfreak16 Yeah, guy kind of earned more respect than that. That is why I liked Tim Armstrong commenting n an interview one time when they were under Epitaph. He more or less said we are supposed to be in the studio right now working on our next record, but we said screw it and are going to travel for the year. Who cares what they want.
1 person likes this
@DWDavis (10773)
• Pikeville, North Carolina
19 Feb 17
I actually like the song because I am a history buff and I knew most of the references he made when a lot of people had no idea what they were about. I would bet most of the people who listen to the song have no idea what a lot of the things are, even some obvious things like Belgians in the Congo and California Baseball. It wasn't Joel's best. I'll give you that. But it wasn't his worst either. And it has come in handy when teaching social studies to middle schoolers.
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (40947)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
20 Feb 17
Very valid point. This probably is a history teacher's dream.
1 person likes this
@DWDavis (10773)
• Pikeville, North Carolina
20 Feb 17
@teamfreak16 Especially since it mentions many things going on outside the US at that time, and I was teaching the Post WWII period from an outside the US perspective.
1 person likes this
• United States
21 Feb 17
I've never listened to this song all the way through.. Songs that I can't stand are where the lyrics are repeated over and over and over. It feels like there's only one line to the song and they weren't creative enough to come up with more. lol
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (40947)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
21 Feb 17
He actually did come up with a lot of stuff, it's just that he sings it all so fast.
1 person likes this
@FayeHazel (17164)
• United States
21 Feb 17
Aw c'mon. "It was always burnin' since the world's been turnin'"
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (40947)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
21 Feb 17
I know. It's very clever, but it's just not for me.
• Preston, England
20 Feb 17
A friend of mine memorized the lyrics to this - quite an achievement and a song I admire greatly
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (40947)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
20 Feb 17
More people are liking this one more than not. When I do #1,I'm going to get ripped apart.
1 person likes this
@TRBRocks420 (75907)
• Banks, Oregon
20 Feb 17
I don't think I have ever even heard this one lol.
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (40947)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
20 Feb 17
Oh yeah? The first time I heard it was on Armed Forces Radio in Germany. I didn't even recognize it as being Billy Joel.
1 person likes this
@amadeo (64165)
• United States
19 Feb 17
Thanks for the memory.
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (40947)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
19 Feb 17
You're welcome. Good memory?
@andriaperry (48933)
• United States
19 Feb 17
Ya know I dont care for this one either.
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (40947)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
19 Feb 17
We seem to be in the minority on this one, which is kind of what I expected.
@NJChicaa (38601)
• United States
19 Feb 17
I don't mind this one
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (40947)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
19 Feb 17
More people seem to like this more than not so far, which is going to become more prevalent up to #1. People are going to wig out when they see #1.
1 person likes this
@marlina (72887)
• Canada
19 Feb 17
To tell you the truth, I do not recall ever listening to this particular song. The beat is not bad.
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (40947)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
19 Feb 17
Huh. It charted pretty highly in Canada. You probably just forgot about it. Believe me, I try!
@franxav (4934)
19 Feb 17
Maybe many others can't stand the song but there is something in it that made it popular!
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (40947)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
19 Feb 17
Oh, most definitely. It is a catchy song.