In his widely disliked smash hit “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” singer Billy Joel shotguns out people, things and events that came up in the first 40 years of his life. The chorus affirms that “we didn’t start the fire / It was always burning since the world’s been turning.” Today, we begin the great work of parsing the song’s lyrics to assign blame.
I’ve turned the lyrics into a 60-bracket tournament, in which the things Joel names are presented in order. Where the reference is incomplete, I’ve added clarifications in brackets [like this], using the Genius Lyrics interpretation of events for clarification.
The one thing about this hailstorm of Baby Boomer memories that really interests me is the distribution pattern. The song has five verses: Verses one through four cover events from 1949 through 1963, and then everything from 1964 to 1989 is crammed into the fifth verse.
Anyway, have at it. I’ll try to leave each round up for a couple of days. Say hi to Billy Joel for me if you see him.