“Exploring the Timeless Legacy of ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’: Billy Joel vs. Fall Out Boy”

Hello everybody. The last couple weeks have been filled with some heart breaking losses so this week I’m talking about the song “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. Originally written by Billy Joel and released in 1989. Joel who had just turned 40 was talking to Sean Lennon, son of legendary Beatle John and Yoko Ono. Sean was saying how it was a tough time in the world to be 21. The conversation sparked and idea to show that each generation has its trials and tribulations. So began one of the most popular songs of the nineties.

It was a number 1 hit on the top 100 Billboards and nominated for a Grammy. The events in the song ranged from 1948 to 1989 and would become one of the greatest historical songs ever written. After 3 decades passed a popular group decided to rewrite Billy Joel’s original song, using the same tune and picking up in 1989 to present 2023. Although Fall Out Boys version has been received in a different way than Joel’s I think they proved their point and perhaps beyond. Kind of like the song “The End” by the Doors where Jim Morrison said this is a never ending song, something can always be added to it, I feel

The new version is an extension to the original. There is so much history packed into both songs. I think me being right in the middle makes me appreciate both songs. A good 25 years of the history was before I was born and stuff I had learned in school, on TV, or from stories from family members. The middle was stuff I experienced as a kid, a teenager, and a young adult. The rest is stuff I experienced as an adult, and as a parent through my children. I think for Fall Out Boy to cover this song in modern times is a tremendous ode to Joel’s original notion that the lyrics or issues of the times may change but the tune or tough situations are always going to exist, hence we didn’t start the fire, but it’s always burning since the worlds been turning.

It is a song that will potentially never end or fade. 2000 years from now the tune potentially will still be going strong with various versions throughout time. Overall I love both versions of this song and I will add the lyrics from both songs to see which ones you know and which ones you may want to look up to see the meaning of. Have a great week everyone.


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