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We Didn't Start The Fire


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We Didn't Start The Fire

Billy Joel


Copyright 1996, Leilani Gnall


Edited and Published 1997, Paul O'Brien

Billy Joel (reportedly) wrote this song because he overheard a child say that he felt sorry for "older people" like Billy Joel because no "history" happened in their lifetime, that NOW (or the time the song was written) was going to be the world's most historical time period. The comment got to Billy Joel so much that he sat down and wrote this to prove that his



Harry Truman

Well loved 33rd President of the United States (1945-1953).  Made the decision to drop the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima & Nagasaki.  "Give 'em hell Harry!" The 1949 Inauguration was the first to be nationally televised, and was estimated to have been viewed by 10 million Americans.

Doris Day

Popular singer/actress and later, star of the Doris Day Show (1968-1973).  Most famous movies: The Pajama Game ('57) and Pillow Talk ('59).







Red China

"The Red Troops," Communists take over mainland China.  Nationalists establish themselves in Taiwan.







Johnnie Ray

Singer who cried when he sang.  Hits: Cry and The Little Cloud that Cried. Johnnie Ray was born on January 10, 1927 in Dallas, Oregon. He was partially deaf since childhood and began wearing a hearing aid at age 14. In 1951 singer LaVern Baker and her manager Al Green helped him with his music. He signed a contract with Okeh in 1949.







South Pacific

Broadway musical first produced on this date







Walter Winchell

America's first modern gossip columnist known for his aggressive style and tremendous use of slang.  America tuned into him on the radio.







Joe DiMaggio

"Joltin' Joe," "The Yankee Clipper" was an outfielder for the New York Yankees (1936-1951) and has the longest hitting streak in the Major Leagues. In 1949, an inflamed heel kept him sidelined for 65 games. When he returned to the lineup, his home run helped the Yankees beat Boston 5-4, and he went on to bat .500 in their three-game series. It was as if he'd never been gone.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1955 and married Marilyn Monroe in '54.







1950

Joe McCarthy

The Republican senator who led "Witch Hunts" against the communists in America.  He also started the dreaded "Black listing."

Richard Nixon

Member of the US Senate and later President.  Investigated domestic communism during this period.







Studebaker

Clement, Henry, and John Studebaker,  The downfall of this eccentric auto company came when their sports car did not catch on as well as the new corvette.







Television

The "Boob Tube" was introduced and became widely popular throughout the world.







North Korea

Democratic peoples republic occupied by U.S.S.R.  They invaded...







South Korea

On June 25, 1950 and remained occupied until July 27, 1953.  The United States supported South Korea.  Start of the "Cold War"?







Marilyn Monroe

Norma Jean-Baker -- Actress and Pin-up girl.  In the movie "Love Happy", United Artists, April 1950 staring: Marx Brothers, Ilona Massey, Eric Blore, Vera-Ellen, Raymond Burr, Marilyn Monroe had a 3 minute walk-on scene with Groucho Marx. She married Joe DiMaggio in 1954 and died of a drug overdose in 1956.  Popular Movies: Some Like It Hot and Bus Stop







1951

Rosenbergs

Ethel-Greenglass Rosenberg and Julius Rosenberg were listed as communists and were convicted of giving secrets to the U.S.S.R.  Executed, they were spies, they were traitors.

H-Bomb

First tested in 1951.  This weapon was more powerful than the destrctive Atomic bomb.  Researched by Edward Teller as a response to the fear of communism after Russia duplicated the A-bomb.







Sugar Ray

Five time middle weight champion (1951-1960). 
Welter weight champion (1946-1951)







Panmunjom

City in South Korea where the cease fire negotiations took place. Talks started in 1951 and the truce was signed in 1953 ending the Korean War.







Brando

Marlon Brando Jr.  The "Buddy" actor.  Won Oscars for: On the Water Front (1954) and The Godfather (1972)







The King and I

Popular musical and book by Oscar Hammerstein based on the novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margret Landon.  About King Mongkut of Thailand and the social life and customs therein.







and 
The Catcher in the Rye

Well known book by J.D. Salinger.







1952

Eisenhower

"Ike" David Dwight Eisenhower.  Allied European military leader and 34th U.S. president (1953-1961).

Vaccine

Jonas Salk, on March 11, 1952, provides the body with lasting defensive powers against 3 types of polio viruses. 







England's got a new Queen

Queen Elizabeth II starts her reign, she is 27 years old.







Marciano

Rocky Marciano, Boxer and Actor.  Became the heavyweight champion of the world when he defeated Jersey Joe Walcott on September 23, 1952. Undefeated Heavyweight Champion (1952-1956).  Died in a plane crash in 1969.







Liberace

George J. Liberace. Conductor, violinist and pianist born Wladziu Valentino (1919-1987).  Rose to stardom in the fifties and went on to become the highest paid entertainer during the sixties and seventies.  Known for his elaborate costumes, flashy piano styles and his token candelabra.  Most well known piece: Mack the Knife







Santayana good-bye

George Santayana, (1863-1952), American philosopher, poet, and novelist, whose wide-ranging philosophical speculation was expressed in a style of great literary distinction. died September 26, 1952., Memorable quote: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."







1953

Joseph Stalin

Dictator of Russia (1929-1953), successor of Lenin.  Instituted Socialism throught the use of force.  Died, March 5, 1953.

Malenkov

Georgi Malenkov was a close associate of Joseph Stalin he, became Prime Minister of Russia after Stalin's death and remained in his position until 1955.







Nasser

Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egyptian President (1953-1970).  He led the disposal of King Farouk in 1952.







and 
Prokofiev

Russian Composer who died in 1953 after putting together Peter and the Wolf.







Rockefeller

John D. Rockefeller.  Most well known of the wealthy Rockefeller family.  Founded Chevron Oil company.  Nelson Aldridge Rockefeller was Governor of New York from 1958 to 1974.







Campanella

Roy Campanella was a black baseball catcher for Brooklyn from 1948 to 1957.  He led the NL in RBI's in 1953 and held the MVP. He was paralyzed in a car accident in 1958 and was entered in to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.







Communist Bloc

The Communist Bloc refers to the countries that comprised the "enemy" during the Cold War.







1954

Roy Cohn

Lawyer and Chief counsel to Senator McCarthy during his "Witch Hunt" trials. 

Juan Peron

Dictator of Argentina, died in 1974.







Toscanini

Arturo Toscanini, child prodigy.  One of the great Orchestra conductors who performed in New York and Italy.  He retired in 1954 at the are of 87.







Dacron

The Tradename for Polyester fiber rope.  The beginning of polyester clothing.







Dien Bien Phu Falls

Vietnam swamp land, location of the Frenc fortress that was defeated in 1954.







Rock Around The Clock

Number 1 song by Bill Haley and the Comets.  Considered the beginning of Rock n' Roll.







1955

Einstein

It doesn't take a genius to know Albert Einstein.  Physicist and mathametician who penned the Theory of Relativity and did substantial work on the creation of the Atomic Bomb.  He won the Nobel Prize before passing away on April 18, 1955.

James Dean

Actor and teen heartthrob.  Became an icon for American teenage boys after a career in films which was tragically cut short when he was killed in a car accident on Sept. 30, 1955.  Films: Rebel Without A Cause (1955), East of Eden (1955), and Giant (1955) filmed before his death.







Brooklyn's got a winning team

The Brooklyn Dodgers wins the World Series 4 games to 3 against the New York Yankees.







Davy Crockett

Frontiersman under President Andrew Jackson who died at the Alamo in 1936.  Because of Walt Disney's now weekly show, Davy Crockett becomes the newest fad among kids.







Peter Pan

The Disney Feature Full Length Animated Movie hits theatres.







Elvis Presley

Actor/Singer "The King" of Rock n' Roll







Disneyland

Walt Disney opens his first amusement park in Anaheim, California.







1956
 

Bardot

Bridget Bardot, French actress and sex symbol.  Famous for marijuana and her long blonde disheveled hair.

Budapest

Moved towards democracy in Hungary, armored tanks quickly put a stop to it.







Alabama

Moved towards civil rights with the Civil Rights Movement.  Blacks protested against discrimination.







Krushchev

Nikita Krushchev, the Premier of Russia who built the Berlin Wall in '56. " We will bury you!"







Princess Grace

Grace Kelley.  Actress who married Prince Ranier III of Monaco in '56.  Movies: High Noon (1952)







Peyton Place

First night time soap opera







Trouble in the Suez

Egypt nationalizes the canal and refuses passage to Israel.  War erupts and Irael, with the help of France and Great Britain occupy the Sinai Penninsula.







1957
 

Little Rock

Arkansas, troops are sent to a central high school to enforce racial integration.

Pasternak

Boris Pasternak, russian creator of Dr. Zhivago.  Forced to refuse the Nobel Prize for literature in '58.







Mickey Mantle

"The Commerce Comet."  NY Yankees outfielder (1951-58).  Won the AL Triple Crown in '56 and held the record for 536 home runs.  He was a 3 time MVP, including the '57 season, and was entered into the Hall of Fame in '74.







Kerouac

Jack Kerouac, led the "Beatnik" movement, authored On the Road in 1957.  b. Oct 20, 1931







Sputnik

The first artificial satellite, launched by the Russians on Oct 4, 1957.  Sputnik means satellite in Russian.







Chou-En-Lai (Zhou En-Lai?)

The premier of China sought to normalize relations between the PRC and the USA







Bridge on the River Kwai

Won 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor-Alec Guinness and Best (Adapted) Screenplay.







1958
 

Lebanon

President "Ike"Eisenhower sent troops to Lebanon where 241 marines died.

Charles de Gaulle

French army general who assumed leadership after WWII, he became the first president of the fifth republic (1959-1969).







California Baseball

In 1958 (between the 1957 and 1958 seasons, at least) the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants (the baseball team) moved out west to California - Los Angeles and San Francisco respectively.







Starkweather Homicide

The Starkweather Homicides - In January, Charlie Starkweather and his girlfriend, Caril Fugate, went on a 11 (we've also heard "over 15") person killing spree over a span of a month and a half. The spree started with Fugate's parents and spread over the Midwest. He was executed in the electric chair.

OR!


I can't believe this, we've heard a few explanations! The second is that the lyric is about John Starkweather who climbed a tower at a Texas college and started shooting at people with a rifle.

OR!!


The third idea is that it refers to the Richard Starkweather murder spree that inspired the film "Badlands."







Children of Thalidomide

Thalidomide was given to women to help with birthing proceedures and morning sickness.  Childern are consequently born with birth defects, typically abnormally short arms. Sometimes, no arms or legs at all.







1959

Buddy Holly

My man! Singer/songwriter of Buddy Holly and the Crickets.  Died in a plane crash with 2 other rock n' roll singers, including Ritchie Valens, on Feb 3, 1959.  (See the American Pie page)

Ben Hur

Nominated for 12Academy Awards. Won 11, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor-Charlton Heston and Best Supporting Actor-Hugh Griffith..







Space Monkey

The first sentient being was sent into outer space, it was... a monkey.







Mafia

Gangs, mobsters, you know like Capone. Don Vito Genovese jailed for narcotics peddling in 1959, he was turned in by Nelson Cantellops.







Hula hoops

The Hula Hoop was invented and became the latest fad.







Castro

Fidel Castro led a campaign to overthrow the Batista regime. The Communist leader took over in Cuba and became the Premier.







Edsel is a no-go

The Edsel, a car too advanced for its time, people were not ready for it and it flopped.







1960

U-2

A spy plane, then being flown by Gary Powers, was shot down.  News of its existence ruined a summit meeting in Vienna between Kruchev and the American President, Eisenhower.

Syngman Rhee

The President of South Korea (1948-1960) was forced from office for political abuses.







Payola

One of the first big music scandals where record companies paid DJs to play certain songs as DJs were asking for money to play records. Allan Freed, a big time radio DJ from Ohio credited with coining the term "Rock and Roll," got caught up in it and it destroyed his career. The film American Hot Wax deals with both Allan and the payola issue.







Kennedy

John F. Kennedy was elected the 35th President of the United States (served 1961-1963). He was also the first Roman Catholic President.







Chubby Checker

Rock n' Roll sensation who created the dance craze, "The Twist."







Psycho

Famous Alfred Hitchcock movie. Nominated for 4 Academy Awards, including Best Director and Best Supporting Actress. Remade in 1999.







Belgians in the Congo

In June, the Belgians lost control of the Congo, which became the independent state of Congo-Kinshasa. Today it is known as Zaire.







 1961

Hemingway

Journalist/Author, Nobel Prize winner in 1954.  Died July 2, 1961.

Eichmann

Adolf Eichman, Nazi leader and most feared Nazi.  He was in charge of Hitler's Death Camps.  He escaped to Argentine in 1946 and was captured by Israelies in 1960. Tried in 1961 and hanged in 1962 for his war crimes.







Stranger in a Strange Land

Novel by Richard Heinlein published in 1961. Winner of the 1962 Hugo Award.







Dylan

Robert Zimmerman/Bob Dylan -- Singer/Songwriter.  Blowin' in the Wind (1962), Times They are a Changin' (1964)







Berlin

The Wall goes up to devide East Communist Germany from West Democratic Germany.







Bay of Pigs Invasion

April 17-19. The unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Communist government of Cuba by U.S. backed Cuban exiles.







1962

Lawrence of Arabia

Winner of 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director.

British Beatle Mania

The Boys, our inspiration, from Liverpool, England. John, Paul, Ringo and George.  Popular for their childlike, whimsy looks and attitudes.  "Mod" clothing and "Sheepdog" hair.

What about our Beatle mania?







Ole Miss

The University of Mississippi is the first to allow African Americans to attend a University. 







John Glenn

First American to orbit Earth







Liston beats Patterson

"Sonny" Liston, Actor/boxer.  Heavyweight champion 1962-1964 beats Floyd Patterson, an Olympic gold medalist (boxing 1952) and the youngest to ever win the heavyweight title. 







1963

Pope Paul

Paul I installed as Pope in 1963. He died on March 6, 1964.  He was also the Monarch of Greece from 1947-1964.

Malcom X

His original name was Malcom Little. After derogatory comments regarding the assassination of J.F.K he was silenced by Black Muslims. Murdered in 1965.







British Politician Sex

British minister Stephen Ward was brought down by virtue of a sex scandal in the early 60s -- he had an affair with Christine Keeler and killed himself in shame. Check out the movie "Scandal" for more details.







JFK Blown away

John F. Kennedy's assassination took place on Nov. 22, 1963 during a political parade in Dallas.







1964

Birth Control

The start of endless debates and controversies over birth control.

Ho Chi Minh

Leader of the Vietminh against the Japanese.  An ally of the US during WWII. He was president of North Vietnam during the period of the Vietnam War.







Richard Nixon back again

After Nixon lost to Kennedy in 1960, he ran for governor of California and lost. He called a press conference and angrily declared he was leaving politics and public life for good, telling the press "You won't have Dick Nixon to kick around any more." He didn't keep his promise, though, and hence the "back again" reference. He became the 37th President from 1967-1974, then resigned.  He ended the US presence in Vietnam, repaired relations with China, and initiated Detente with USSR.







Moonshot

July 1969. U.S. wins race to the Moon, Neil Armstrong plants American flag.







1969

Woodstock

New York's "Love-in."  On a 600 acre farm, 400,000 people gathered for 3 days of Rock n' Roll.   It is reported that no fights took place, it rained most of the three days and 1 child was born.

Watergate

Break in of Democratic National Headquarters, by Nixon White House Aides. Causing scandal, including evidence of missing tapes.







1970

Punk Rock

In the fifties, baby boomers were teens and they rebelled against adults with Rock n' Roll.  In the early seventies, their children started punk rock.

Begin

Menachem Wolfovitch, Prime minister of Israel 1977-1983.  Attended a meeting with Anwar el Sadat resulting in the Camp David Accords. He is the Nobel Peace Prize winner of 1978.







1980

Reagan

40th President (1981-1989),  instituted "Reaganomics" in an attempt to spur the economy.  He was also known for his conservative policies and the fact that he has been our oldest President (b. Feb. 6, 1911)

Palestine

Continuing conflicts over a Palestinian homeland.







Terror on the Airline

Many Hijackings and explosions took place during the 80's







Ayatollah's in Iran

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini began a Holy War with Iran.







Russians in Afghanistan

Russian and Afgan government troops hold the major cities but rebels control the country side.







Wheel of Fortune

One of the most popular TV game shows begins in the 80's







Sally Ride

First woman in Space







Heavy Metal Suicide

In the eighties, a rumor flourished that heavy metal music caused some kids to commit suicide. - Music doesn't kill people, people kill people (and guns).







Foreign Debts

The United States, under Reagan's Reganomics, ran up trillions of dollars in National Debt.







Homeless Vets

Due to the state of the economy and high unemployment, Vietnam vets are forced to the streets by the thousands.







AIDS

The AIDS epidemic becomes the headline news.







Crack

Cocaine has been around for awhile but it becomes popular again in another form.







Bernie Goetz

Was attacked by 2-4 thugs in a New York subway. He returned the attack with gunfire from his legally registered gun. He left one in a wheelchair of the attackers. The incident later went to trial and due to a lack of evidence to prove that Goetz was acting in self defense, the victim (Goetz) was forced to pay approximately 1 million dollars to the families of the attackers. (You better believe we have a great justice system!)







Hypodermics on the Shore

From the Pacific to Lake Michigan, the pollution in our water  is recognized when people find hypodermic needles in the seas.







China's under Martial Law

Democratic movement in China stopped by use of military force.







Rock & Roller Cola Wars

Michael Jackson and Pepsi, Paula Abdul and Coca-Cola







The World's always been kinda messed up, it was messed up before I was born, it was messed up during the time that I lived and it will probably be messed up after I'm gone.  That doesn't mean you don't try the best that you can and make this a better world.


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