Trying to nail down the exact meaning of the lyrics to We Didn't Start the Fire(Long)

John-Miles

Screenwriter
Joined
Nov 29, 2001
Messages
1,220
This is something that has always had me curious, I’ve liked this song for a long time, and honestly I know most of the names and the generalities surrounding the names and events mentioned, but I am curious for a little more detail. Of course I can always just go look it up on the net but that is a little less fun, and since people here know about these lyrics. If you can provide a brief description as to what each of these lyrics refer to and possibly even a date reference as well I would really appreciate it.

Again the point of this post is not to test your ability to search on google, but rather to just see what we all know here and what we can come up with. I figure with all the people here on this forum we can easily fill out the details behind all of these lyrics.

Of course if you don’t want to participate, well don’t its pretty simple. I will update this original post at least once or twice a day and insert the descriptions people have for the lyrics.

Note to admins, sorry if this is a little off topic, but this seemed the best place to post this.





Harry Truman
Doris day
Red China
Johnnie Ray

South Pacific
Walter Winchell
Joe Di Maggio.
Joe McCarthy
Richard Nixon
Studebaker
Television

North Korea
South Korea
Marilyn Monroe.

Rosenbergs
H-Bomb
Sugar Ray
Panmunjom

Brando
The King And I and The Catcher In The Rye.
Eisenhower
Vaccine
England's got a new queen

Marciano
Liberace
Santayana good-bye.

We didn't start the fire

It was always burning since the world's been turning.
We didn't start the fire

No
we didn't light it but we tried to fight it.

Joseph Stalin
Malenkov
Nasser and Prokofiev

Rockefeller
Campanella
Communist Bloc.
Roy Cohn
Juan Peron
Toscanini
Dacron

Dien Bien Phu falls
Rock Around The Clock.

Einstein
James Dean
Brooklyn's got a winning team

David Crockett
Peter Pan
Elvis Presley
Disneyland.
Bardot
Budapest
Alabama
Khrushchev

Princess grace
Peyton Place
Trouble in the Suez.

We didn't start the fire
...

Little Rock
Pasternak
Mickey Mantle
Kerouac

Sputnik
Chou En-Lai
Bridge On The River Kwai.
Lebanon
Charles de Gaulle
California baseball

Starkweather
Hoicide
Children of Thalidomide.

Buddy Holly
Ben Hur
Space Monkey
Mafia

Hula Hoops
Castro
Edsel is a no-go.
U 2
Syngman Rhee
Payola and Kennedy

Chubby Checker
Psycho
Belgians in the Congo.

We didn't start the fire
...

Hemingway
Eichmann
Stranger In A Strange Land

Dylan
Berlin
Bay Of Pigs Invasion.
Lawrence Of Arabia
British Beatlemania

Ole Miss
John Glenn
Liston beats Patterson.

Pope Paul
Malcolm X.
British Politician Sex

J.F.K. blown away
what else do I have to say?

We didn't start the fire
...

Birth Control
Ho Chi Minh
Richard Nixon back again

Moonshot
Woodstock
Watergate
Punk Rock.
Begin
reagan
Palestine
Terror on the airline

Ayatollah's in Iran
Russians in Afghanistan.

Wheel Of Fortune
sally Ride
Heavy Metal
Suicide

Foreign debts
Homeless vets
AIDS
Crack
Bernie Goetz.
Hypodermics on the shores
China's under martial law

Rock and Roll
Cola Wars
I can't take it anymore.

We didn't start the fire
...
we didn't start the fire
...
 

Henry Gale

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jul 10, 1999
Messages
4,628
Real Name
Henry Gale
John,

Not being a Billy Joel fan, I've never spent any time listening to this song, but I am from his general age group so I think I know most of the references.
Listing Marilyn after Korea may refer to the great story about her visit to the U.S. troops during that conflict. She got a great reception from the men and upon returning home told her husband, "You've never heard such cheering!"
Joe DiMaggio replied, "Yes I have."

Dien Bien Phu falls
Eleven years before I arrived in Viet-Nam, the French left, but not before leaving their imprint on the people. The French word for a much or many, "beaucoup" was used by the Vietnamese as "bucu." And the Americans brought it back home and it's now a common part of our speech today.
 

Henry Gale

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Joined
Jul 10, 1999
Messages
4,628
Real Name
Henry Gale
Nice to see I haven't lost my touch...I need to go brag about this in the "Thread Killer" area.
 

Henry Gale

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jul 10, 1999
Messages
4,628
Real Name
Henry Gale
It's a shame...I was gonna mention Charles Starkweather-Caril Fugate and Terrence Malick but I didn't want to hog all the good stuff. Charlie would have turned 65 later this year, but, things didn't work out.
 

John Watson

Screenwriter
Joined
Jul 14, 2002
Messages
1,936
Well, I figure the meaning of the song is some 60's type rationalizing why everything is still goin' wrong.

Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, usw, world without end.

The only reference I was a little unsure about was Toscanini extant with dacron, and reading homicide for hoicide
 

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