You would be amazed to know how the idea came of writing this song. He discussed with his son that if he knew about ’50s touchstones as the Korean War, Hungarian Uprising and integration of the Little Rock schools. His son said no; when he thought of writing something to show this generation, the world is full of crises and craziness.
Reason for writing the song
Apart from the idea, the primary reason for writing this song is because he admires and loves history a lot. He also said in an interview that if he did not become a musician, he would have chosen to become a history teacher. He wrote this song with full compassion, as this song became a sensation and made its way to the top music charts in the U.S.
Change of style
This was the turning point for Billy Joel as he used to write rock and pop style songs. He was already 40 when he recorded this song and was in the middle of professional instability. But this song changed a lot of things in his life. This song is not like a narrative story, but it moves through a rapid-fire series in a different style. He also says that this was the first song when he wrote the lyrics before composing music.
He got a lot of recognition for this song; the best thing was that the Grammy Awards noticed this song as soon as it was released. It became the third number-one hit song for Joel; also, it was nominated for the ‘Record of the Year Category.’ Another good thing was that a music video was also created for this song which Chris Blum directed.
Keeping the name
Coming to the name of this song was also not an easy task. He proposed various names, and they were rejected twice by his close friend, Jann Wenner, who was the publisher of Rolling Stone. It was the third name, ‘We didn’t start the fire’, that was selected.
Other exciting things
He used a unique style for writing this song which was named a stream of consciousness. This style includes numerous unrelated images with a half-sung, half-spoken and rapid-fire style of vocals. Joel admits that it is one of his favourite songs but has no melody in it.
This song entered the Billboard Top 40 on October 20, 1989, and became the number one song on December 1. It stayed at number one for two weeks and has been parodied various times over the years. This song always reminds the viewers about past plots. In short, it is a song which can never be forgotten and is one of the best songs by Billy Joel.
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