It was 1989.
Billy Joel sat down to write a tune.
All reflective about stuff that was happening in his life since birth. He titled it, We Didn’t Start the Fire.
Personally, I always liked the song. I thought it was a unique type of song.
It stood out BECAUSE it was different.
Plus, when you listen more than once, you always seem to catch a new reference in it.
Despite its #1 Billboard status and up for the Grammy Award’s, Record of the Year, one magazine ranked it 41st out of the 50 worst songs ever.
Compared its lyric to a last ditch effort at a term paper the night before it’s due.
Still, who wouldn’t take a #1 hit?
And then, what Billy says about it kind of shocked me.
First, Billy isn’t too easy on himself. Said the melody is like a dentist’s drill whacking away at a tooth.
Called it his worst melody ever.
Man, this tune is getting some bad raps ain’t it?
Dentist drill melody and flinching term paper lyrics.
But, there is a very, very good reason why Billy had to write a melody as such. Which I’ll touch on in a future Tune Booster. Without it, I believe the song would have flopped.
When you listen to the song, it’s cool to hear the various references.
To me they are like hyperlinked headlines.
As each reference goes along, my mind is going… “Oh yeah. I forgot about that.” And I immediately reflect back to that time of life for me.
And everyone who listens has different reflections.
That part is quite ingenious. Which that magazine totally missed.
Idiots. They probably never wrote a good song in their life.
It does break a golden rule of songwriting though, taking your mind off the song, but it actually has benefit’s to help it’s longevity and extend the number of listens without tiring.
So what is Billy suffering from with this tune?
Besides his own distain for its melody and nearly impossibility to play it live without fering missing a machine gun lyric?
It’s a dead link and a dead end song.
He wrote it in 1989.
So all those references in it for those born after then won’t relate.
It’s like clicking on a web link which goes nowhere for them.
Plus for the rest of us, it dead ends the date it was written.
It’s now become like a joke without a punch line.
A date without a kiss at the end of the night.
You get it, right?
Happily, there are ways to prevent songs from such suffering.
But, I’ve gone on long enough here. We’ll save that for another time.
For now though, find out just how easy it is to come up with creative, unique lyrics with the five ways in August’s issue.
Get it while it’s still out: https://www.tunesmithtips.com/tunebooster/