On this day in music history: December 9, 1989 – “We Didn’t Start The Fire” by Billy Joel hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Billy Joel, it is the third chart topping single for the singer, songwriter and musician from Hicksville, Long Island, NY. Having just turned forty years old in May 1989, Billy Joel is inspired to write “We Didn’t Start The Fire” after a conversation he has with a young man in his twenties. When they begin talking about past world events and people, the young man comments to Joel, You were a kid in the fifties and everybody knows that nothing happened in the fifties". To that statement Billy replies, “wait a minute, didn’t you hear of the Korean War or the Suez Canal Crisis?”. Beginning with the year of his birth, 1949, Joel looks up and writes down information on significant historic figures and pop cultural events chronologically leading up to the then present time (1989), then crafting them into structured lyrics. Working with Mick Jones of the band Foreigner as his co-producer, is instrumental in changing the arrangement of the song as how it had been written, to giving it a more driving “rock & roll” attitude. Released as the first single from his eleventh studio album “Storm Front” on September 27, 1989, it is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #58 on October 14, 1989, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. The single receives a Grammy nomination for Record Of The Year in 1990. “Fire” also is the subject of numerous song parodies by comedians and other musicians. “We Didn’t Start The Fire” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
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