We Didn't Start the Fire Historical Importance

We Didn't Start the Fire Historical Importance

There are many songs that have been written about historical events. Also many

songs that have historical meaning. One of these songs is “We didn’t start the fire” by

Billy Joel. The song itself is a list of events that Joel felt his generation was not

responsible for. A lot of the references are to the Cold War between the United States

and Russia, a problem his generation inherited. In the liner notes of ‘Piano Man: The

Very Best of Billy Joel’, Joel explains that he wrote this song after a conversation with

John Lennon's son Sean.

Some of the events, names and terms used in the song are explained as follows.

Red china is a nickname for china when it got taken over by communists. South Pacific

was a highly popular broadway musical and hit movie. The Rosenbergs were a husband

and wife who were arrested and executed for selling secrets of the atomic bomb to the

Soviet Union. The vaccine to the dreaded disease polio which was discovered by Jonas

Salk and distributed to the world. Santayana good-bye was about the famous

philosopher George Santayana who died in 1952. Budapest is about the anti-communist

riots that took place in Budapest.

I chose this song because it is a summary of cultural history of the twentieth

century crammed into 4 minutes. Also its a pretty catchy song and one of my favorite Billy

Joel songs. it lists numerous events, people and other terms of the twentieth century.

Similar Essays