In our story today on the attempts by Dems and R’s to blame each other for the economy, we quote NYU professor Robert Wright’s suggestion that a good theme song of sorts for the Obama message on the economy is an old Billy Joel tune: “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”
“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,” goes the chorus.
The 1989 hit has spawned fan love and fan hate since it hit number one on the charts (one TV correspondent in particular told me he hates it). But what’s really interesting about the song is the political/historical nature of the lyrics. Joel basically runs through a list of cultural events from 1949 to 1989, starting with Harry Truman and ending with “cola wars.”
There are pretty cool websites that have an explanation of each event or person mentioned in the song, such as this one. The song is actually a history teacher’s dream.
The overall message, it seems to be, is that the baby boomers, Joel’s generation, were not to blame for all the social and geopolitical chaos that he felt was ocurring at that time (compared to now maybe 89 doesn’t seem that bad).
When you watch the music video, the message that comes through is one of disillusionment with modern Western culture and “The American Dream.”
— Jon Ward, White House reporter, The Washington Times
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