Talk:We Didn't Start the Fire

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February 20, 2008Peer reviewReviewed
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Parodies to be added[edit]

FrancineLouise created a parody of we didn't start the fire which lists an incredible amount playstation song names featured both on's front page receiving daily awards titled "& So We Love Playstation"

College Humor has "We didnt start the Flame War." Think it should be added?-- (talk) 10:44, 13 February 2009 (UTC)

Both now added. JQFTalkContribs 19:23, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

There is a parody entitled "Here Comes Another Bubble" by The Richter Scales, the video for it is on Youtube -- (talk) 10:47, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

  • This article isn't about the song's parodies, as evidenced by the reverts by other editors of listed parodies, and the comment within the article itself against listing parodies. I'll just say that the existence of parodies in general is indeed notable if backed by cites, but not their enumeration. So I've added a citation about parodies of WDSTF, and removed the direct link to the CollegeHumor video itself. --Lexein (talk) 10:05, 29 May 2010 (UTC)

On The News Quiz on BBC, Series 99 Episode 2, Aired 2019-04-19, the host recapped the first round with: "This is the news that over a billion billion euros has been pledged to restore Notre Dame Cathedral after a fire ravaged the historic building. The arch bishop of Notre Dame insisted he didn't start the fire, adding 'it's always burning since the world's been turning. We didn't start the fire. No we didn't light it but we tried to fight it. Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnny ray.' He's gone mad, basically." Whitis (talk) 04:34, 22 May 2019 (UTC)


They maintained their innocence even after their executions? If they were executed, how were they maintaining their innocence? I don't know enough about the topic to make an edit, but something should be done to correct that statement. Perhaps up until their executions? -- (talk) 21:21, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

Updated lyrics since the song's release[edit]

A NYT Op-Ed:

Nice attempt. Worh a mention?

Macshill (talk) 03:39, 20 January 2009 (UTC)

Definitely not - this obamistic propaganda is shallow and trivial - too many names that will be forgotten in 5-10 years, just a handful of important changes. (talk) 13:49, 3 April 2009 (UTC)

I'd support mentioning it - @IP: only the last stanza is "obamistic propaganda", the rest is more or less in line with the original. Many of the names/events in the original are also long since "forgotten", so that's no argument against it...--Roentgenium111 (talk) 17:56, 24 July 2012 (UTC)

Link down[edit]

The link "They'll never stop the simpsons" doesn't work anymore :'( --Lazer erazer (talk) 10:50, 21 March 2009 (UTC)


Does anyone know of a great way to cite the many unreferenced statements in the article? The lyric analysis, while interesting, is very much original research. Some of the things are no doubt true, but other things are definitely up for debate. I don't know if removing that mountain of a section would be a good idea, but I think it might be wise to reference it. Does anyone have any ideas? CarpetCrawler (talk) 20:11, 27 March 2009 (UTC)

Timeline suggestion[edit]

The timeline of referenced events is really well done and all, but the one drawback is that it's all one, exacerbatingly long section.

For readability and editing purposes, I'd suggest breaking the main section up into subsections for each decade. More or less like this:

4 Historical items referred to in the song

4.1 1949, 1950's

4.2 1960's

4.3 1970's

4.4 1980's

given this is the talk page, I'm obviously not going to create actual subsections, and since 1949 is the only year in that decade referenced, I'd suggest combining it with the 50's.

Does it sound decent? KirkCliff2 (talk) 16:11, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

Historical items referred to in the song[edit]

Wouldn't it be better to preserve the original format in the song, and then explain in each entry what it is? (i.e., keep "Campenella," sted "Roy Campenella"?) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:44, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

Copying word for word would be a copyright violation, unfortunately. Smallbones (talk) 18:52, 29 August 2009 (UTC)

Fancruft items[edit]

The fancruft on nonnotable paradies is overwhelming. I,m removing the whole section, but please feel free to insert individual items again, provided that you have a reliable source that shows that it is notable.

Note this diff if you want to check back on which fancruft (all) was removed. (

Smallbones (talk) 10:54, 9 June 2009 (UTC)

Amen! They've already started creeping back in; I've just torn two more out, and left a comment in the source in the vain hope that will do something. 4pq1injbok (talk) 22:24, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
  • At the moment, the CollegeHumor parody has >5 million hits, and has been discussed elsewhere, so it's getting close to notable by itself. I cited a Time/Techland article supporting the existence of parodies of WDSTF in general and the CollegeHumor example specifically. --Lexein (talk) 10:17, 29 May 2010 (UTC)
Page hits does not at all equal notability for an encyclopedia. DreamGuy (talk) 19:16, 26 September 2010 (UTC)
Who said they were? The above reply (to a four-month old comment) misses the compound nature of my two-clause sentence. Perhaps I should have used the words "in sources" instead "elsewhere." And, to quote the introductory paragraph of WP:N These notability guidelines only outline how suitable a topic is for its own article. They do not directly limit the content of articles. For Wikipedia's policies regarding content, see WP:Neutral point of view, WP:Verifiability... If you have a pillar, policy, guideline, essay, or even a discussion which actually sheds light on the above specific issue, please link to that rather than merely make bold, naked (unsupported) statements. What you say _may_ be true, but you have not supported it. Barking platitudes are still just platitudes. Such brief barks do not constitute WP:Discussion. --Lexein (talk) 23:46, 26 September 2010 (UTC)

Summer Girls?[edit]

Referring to the "Historical items referred to in the song" section... Does the song "Summer Girls" really count for a song which "We Didn't Start The Fire" to be a successor to? It came out 10 years after "We Didn't Start The Fire" and doesn't have nearly as much significance on the history of popular music as the other songs mentioned. I'd argue that that song is actually more of a footnote/write off than anything.

Just wanted to put my input in here before I deleted it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:45, 24 August 2009 (UTC)

Citeable source for event interpretation[edit]

For the events in the lyric we don't have any references. In some ways this is perfectly normal, the success of the song was dependent on everybody knowing what these things referred to, and the things referred to were the top news items of each year in chronological order. On the other hand, I don't want to suggest that we use "This is common knowledge" if somebody asks how we know that "Hypodermics on the shore" refers to Syringe Tide.

Does anybody know of a citeable source that we can use to justify (at least to some extent) our links to specific items? I doubt there is anything like an "official source" (but see Joel quote I put in about the first verse or two). The only thing we have in the article now is an external link to a bloggish source [1]

Might there be a source interpreting these events? Sure, why not - I've seen such interpretations for Hotel California, and Bye-Bye, Miss American Pie, why not for "Fire"? (see e.g. sources in Hotel California#Themes and American_Pie#External_links A big Barnstar for whoever finds such a source! Smallbones (talk) 19:02, 29 August 2009 (UTC)


While it may have been shocking, “Psycho” is not a “a landmark in graphic violence”, because the violence is never show, it is implied (hand movements, the curtain tearing, the water darkening). At no point is the violence depicted - no contact between knife and body, no wounds shown, no prosthetic effects. Publicity may have made out that the film was graphically gory, but it isn’t, and made no great inroads into what could be depicted on screen. Jock123 (talk) 11:44, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

See Also[edit]

I've removed and commented ==See Also== 'It's the End of the World as We Know It (And_I_Feel_Fine)' song by R.E.M. This is covered by its containing category "List songs". Also, R.E.M. is not related to Billy Joel; otherwise include evidence (with citations) in the article. Discuss. --Lexein (talk) 12:12, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

Peter Pan[edit]

I'm fairly certain that Peter Pan actually refers to Operation Peter Pan, which is out of chronology but makes much more sense. -Binary Fruit —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:17, 4 April 2011 (UTC)

Davey Crockett[edit]

Could the lyric referencing Davey Crockett also referencing that hand-held nuclear recoil-less rifle? It also appear in the fifties. (talk) 19:29, 21 May 2010 (UTC)

Youtube links[edit]

Reverted this:"To hear a new version of the song, follow this link:". 1) WP:HOW 2) Likely WP:LINKS 3) Maybe WP:PROMO 4) Certainly WP:COPYVIO. --Lexein (talk) 13:35, 14 June 2010 (UTC)

The Forms[edit]

Upon re-instating and expanding the deliberately de-cited and decimated covers and parodies paragraph, and creating the == Derivations == section, I've noticed that the cover by The Forms is only listed in Pitchfork, though it is favorably reviewed by the unknown-notability "Gimme Tinnitus" blog. Moved to here, in case it eventually is reviewed in a notable source.

The Forms' cover noted in Pitchfork[1] and reviewed in the Gimme Tinnitus blog as "They have (almost completely) rehabilitated the song with a radical rearrangement... lowering the vocals in the mix, postpunk bass."[2]

Sadly, this seems to leave no notable cover versions. WTF? --Lexein (talk) 03:27, 26 September 2010 (UTC)


  1. ^ Solarski, Matthew (November 19, 2008). "My Brightest Diamond, Frightened Rabbit Do Covers". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 11, 2009.
  2. ^ "We Didn't Start The Fire (Billy Joel Cover) By The Forms". Gimme Tinnitus, November 25 2008.

Other parodies[edit]

--Lexein (talk) 03:31, 26 September 2010 (UTC)

Describing parodies/takeoffs/knockoffs[edit]

  • Parodies which I've seen so far all seem to be "based on", not "of", the song. That is, neither the song nor Joel are the target of the jokes.
  • Knockoff as wikilinked, describes an inferior copy of a thing - haven't found any of those either in notable sources. "Takeoff" is, perhaps, a less pejorative term, though less well known, but seems to be a better description of most of the versions than either "parody" or "knockoff". --Lexein (talk) 15:12, 26 September 2010 (UTC)

Funny, your edit comment when you added a bunch of triviacruft nonsense back in was to "See talk" and there's nothing on the talk page supporting your edit... in fact the talk page has a lot of comments saying that nonsense should be removed.

I should also note that something have a source by itself only proves it is factual, not that it's notable for mention in an encyclopedia article. DreamGuy (talk) 19:14, 26 September 2010 (UTC)

  1. That I neglected to leave a special discussion place for you in Talk is irrelevant. You could certainly start your own, to explain your deletions one by one, citing specific policy points for each one, to encourage discussion, rather than revert wars.
  2. Although there is general agreement that non-notable non-reliably-sourced material should not be allowed, no definitive consensus has occurred as to what will be allowed, after material has been soundly sourced. How many sources?
  3. Your characterization of "bunch of triviacruft nonsense" indicates that you are pushing a POV. You fail to indicate what _does_ indicate notability to you, yet you are quick to delete sourced material without policy based explanation. What do you want?
  4. Your deletions were mass deletions, without rationale or justification. You not only failed to assume good faith on my part, you make it very difficult for me to assume good faith on your part.
  5. Fancruft is your term, and in my opinion, it's a detestably uncivil word to use to describe what might be in-good-faith fan-driven non-RS material which may be of questionable notability. It's a bald-faced insult, and has no place in Wikipedia discussions, because it's just plain WP:UNCIVIL. It is deprecated in the two essays WP:Fancruft and WP:NOCRUFT, and does not apply to my additions.
  6. Nonsense is an uncivil word to describe the reliably sourced material I added. Nonsense implies falsehood - were the sources lying? No? Then neither was I.
  7. Notability is a matter of intense debate on Wikipedia. We should be able to agree that notability can be established by sources. If you do not agree with that, then you should WP:DISENGAGE. Read the intro to WP:N - it is not to be used as a reason to delete content within articles, only to determine article notability.

--Lexein (talk) 00:21, 27 September 2010 (UTC) Edited for tone --Lexein (talk)


Can anyone explain what the R.L.Stine reference is about?

Should it be here?

Dave Harris, —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:11, 7 February 2011 (UTC)

Copyvio concerns[edit]

I am concerned that the body of this article is mostly a copyvio. While listing the allusions may be fine, the fact that we have the lyrics word for word up is a bit troubling. thoughts? --Guerillero | My Talk 04:42, 10 October 2011 (UTC)

The lead and takeoffs[edit]

  • We've gone around on this before, and the mention of derivations (more properly, take-offs) have uncontroversially been in the lead paragraph for a very long time. Please take a moment to understand WP:LEAD The lead does not merely summarize the topic, it summarizes the article. Quoting: "The lead serves as an introduction to the article and a summary of its most important aspects." This means summarizing the various sections present in the article. Quoting: "The lead should be able to stand alone as a concise overview." This means, simply enough, that if no mention of the derivations section is present in the lead, it is an incomplete lead section which cannot stand alone as a concise overview of the article.
  • The 2nd paragraph summarizes nothing that exists elsewhere in the article, and is unsourced original research. So I removed it.

--Lexein (talk) 22:23, 26 September 2012 (UTC)

I agree with PaulGS that the fact that the Billy Joel song has been parodied (or referenced by other songs) is not significant enough to warrant inclusion in the lede. And that's because it's trivia. The WP:LEAD outlines that the lede should summarize important information in the article. Now, I'll admit that I've seen a lot of Wikipedia articles that include sections with trivia. But to mention that trivia in the lede, I think, is inappropriate and definitely not encyclopedic.Jpcohen (talk) 01:54, 27 September 2012 (UTC)
The qualitative criterion "important" does not override the definition of the lead, in which the quantitative: "summarize the article" is the key point. Dismissing an entire section of the article is inappropriate, and transparent WP:UNDUE de-emphasis of a section already placed far down the article, even though you personally don't like it. You both are selectively reading the guideline to suit your shared bias against having the lead paragraph summarize the article as it is written, in favor of what you prefer to see in the lead. --Lexein (talk) 02:49, 27 September 2012 (UTC)
That the lead should emphasize an article's "most important" aspects/points is mentioned in both the first and second paragraphs of the guideline that you yourself are citing. You can't just write those words off as modifiers that carry no weight. I am not suggesting that the trivia section of this article (and that's what I consider the section on parodies/references/knockoffs to be) ought to be removed. But if we can agree that it is a trivia section, trivia is, by definition, not important. This is why I object to mentioning the knockoffs/parodies in the lead. I don't believe this shows any personal bias against the trivia section on my part. If I was against having that section in the article, I would be recommending its removal. And I'm not. And since PaulGS agrees with me on this, it's clear that this is not just my judgement. Many Wikipedia articles have similar trivia sections in them. But because these sections are trivial, I don't believe that they ought to be mentioned in the lead of any article (where "important" introductory information on any given topic belongs). Hopefully other editors will weight in on this dispute so we can settle the matter.Jpcohen (talk) 15:18, 27 September 2012 (UTC)

derivative works[edit]

One of the political parties in India purchased the rights to this song and made a derivative of it as part of their campaign for the 2014 parliamentary elections. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:41, 24 April 2014 (UTC)

Unnecessary parenthetical aside.[edit]

This aside in the "Of Note" section is unnecessary: "(by a not entirely accurate lyric referring only to England, rather than Great Britain)" England got a new queen--that is entirely accurate. It is also accurate to say that the UK got a new Queen, as well as every Commonwealth Realm, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Channel Islands, etc. but not necessary. Additionally, the aside is itself incorrect as the entity QE is most known for ruling is called "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland"--not just Great Britain. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:44, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

I just deleted the entire phrase. Problem solved. Jedzz (talk) 15:56, 1 May 2014 (UTC)


Something's wrong with the sorting. I don't know how to put it into words. (I'm not really good with that kind of thing.) You'll see it when you click the "Position" arrow. JMtB03 (talk) 04:29, 8 June 2014 (UTC)

"Of note"[edit]

Per WP:NOT, we should avoid lists of miscellaneous information like this unless the facts can be contextualized using reliable secondary sources. Nikkimaria (talk) 03:20, 10 July 2014 (UTC)

Instrument(s) played by Joel in the song[edit]

Billy Joel plays guitar in live versions of the song but in Storm Front (album)#Band personnel guitar isn't listed an instrument he played on the album. It says that he played piano, Hammond organ, clavinet, synthesizer, harpsichord, accordion and percussion on the album. Does anyone know what instrument(s) he played in the studio recording?

Red China[edit]

Why is this not wikilinked? There's a page called Red China. Should I go fix it?

"Red China" leads to a disambiguation page that leads back to "China", which was already linked later in the entry, in association with more descriptive text ("People's Republic of China"). I removed the link to "H-Bomb" for a similar reason.Jedzz (talk) 12:48, 11 May 2016 (UTC)

Parody that Would Be Hard to Describe in This Article[edit]

I remember seeing a video/movie in middle school about recycling that started with a parody of this song called "We Didn't Start the Landfill." The movie was taped/released in 1990. Who knows the name of the movie? Cbsteffen (talk) 01:02, 3 May 2017 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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In the 1963 section, it says that the Nation of Islam "censor[ed]" Malcolm X. Is this a misspelling of "censure", or did they actually censor him? --Zzedar (talk) 17:49, 25 January 2018 (UTC)

According to the Malcom X article, it should be “censured”. Good catchJedzz (talk) 23:46, 26 January 2018 (UTC)

"JFK blown away (What else do I have to say?):"[edit]

I removed "(What else do I have to say?)" from the "JFK blown away" bullet point, because it is not necessarily referring to the JFK assassination, and is simply one of several transitions to the chorus. Dtwedt (talk) 12:03, 13 July 2019 (UTC)