What Else Do I Have to Say?

Everyone was so busy in 2009 examining the past decade and PUTTING IT ALL IN PERSPECTIVE (spoiler alert: more of that to come) that we all missed a huge milestone.

That’s right, last year was the 20th anniversary of the release of “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” Billy Joel’s 20th-century history lesson in quasi-rap form. Where would we be today without the release of WDStF? Would American students be even more terrible at history? What would lazy teachers do without this sacred text to lean on? Would we have all forgotten about Elvis Presley, Red China and Disneyland by now?

Thank God we don’t have to think about any of that, because WDStF does exist.

Let’s take a look at American history through the eyes of William Joel. Breaking down WDStF by the numbers:

Number of American Presidents mentioned: 5

Number of American Presidents snubbed: 2 (Ford, Carter)

Actors/Actresses: 6

Musicians: 10

Athletes/sporting events: 8

Broadway shows: 2

Journalists: 0

Walter Winchells: 1

Autos/auto manufacturers: 2

War-related shit (battles, treaties, unrest): 8

Writers: 4

Books: 2

Terrible books by authors who died today: 1

International leaders: 14

Lawyers: 1

Songs: 1

Movies: 6

TV shows: 2

Stuff about space: 5

Stuff about civil rights: 3

Murderous civilians: 2

Murderous Nazis: 1

Political scandals: 2

Topic that Billy Joel is clearly more interested in than the rest of us: 20th century classical composers

Oddest mention, especially in the condensed 1964-1989 verse: Wheel of Fortune

Alternate lyric thankfully left out: “poisoned apples in the stores”

People mentioned twice: 2 (JFK, Nixon)

What constitutes history, according to Billy Joel: the years when famous people died

Coolest-sounding verse: Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball/Starkweather homicides, children of thalidomide

Dumbest-sounding verse: Foreign debts, homeless vets/AIDS, crack, Bernie Goetz

Plastics: 1

Fads: 2 (depending on whether or not you count “crack” as a fad)

Nazis: 1

Number of people I had to look up on Wikipedia: 3

Of those, number who were classical composers: 2

Genres of music Billy Joel probably hates: 2

Athlete not mentioned, even though 4 other boxers were: Muhammad Ali (seriously, he couldn’t find something to rhyme with “Clay”?)

Percent of lyrics that are U.S.-centric: 59.66

What Billy can’t take anymore: rock and roller cola wars

Now, I  know what you’re asking: When is WDStF Part II coming out? It’s like the years 1989 – 2010 are a gaping hole in the historical record. I don’t know the answer, because Billy Joel is not looking so good these days. But to help out, and maybe inspire him to dry out and do what needs to be done, here’s a humble suggestion for what the 2009 verse should be:

Bea Arthur, Barack & Rahm, Ed McMahon, Octomom
Partisan nation, and The Situation

That sums it up, right? You’re welcome.

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1 Comment

Filed under Music Has AIDS, The Dilemma

One response to “What Else Do I Have to Say?

  1. John

    The brilliance of this article soars inversely in proportion to the abject failure that is that so-called “song”. Meaningless pedestrian lyrics purporting to convey some greater truth about humanity. Which pretty much sums up Billy Joel’s entire career. So there’s that.

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