Sunday, April 20, 2008

"We din't start the fire"

In a sense "We din't start the fire" was my foray into "foreign" music. Born in central india, the only "foreigner" i knew, who could sing was Michael Jackson before that.

I think it was 1989 (or was it '88), and our only Television channel was the state-run Doordarshan. I remember watching the recorded version of the Grammy awards on our Black and White , BPL television. It was shown late on a Friday night, after Prannoy Roy's "The world this week"

Before this song, of course, company of few friends in my school had exposed me to Pop and Rock including George Michael's Faith, Bruce Springteen's "Born in the USA" etc.But those were few and far.

Starting with "We din't..." i got into that mode, where you talk of music, collect stuff (cassettes and custom recorded stuff), exchange with friends and so on. I actually did not understand this song at all, but somehow it was appealing. Some names in the song were familiar. Nixon..monroe..stalin..h-bomb..

That this song is a "classic" and is referred to even today, is a little strange. It does not have any "lyrics" per se, yet it has a message. An effective one. The list of personalities and places it mentions, ring a bell across the globe to any listener. And yeah we get the message - 'The fire was always on, ever since the world was turning.."

Brilliant, humorous and very straight. No poetry, yet hummable. It's weird how some songs become timeless classics. Specially this one, which started as a conversation between Billy Joel and his friend's son. Just another random thought!

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