We Didn't Start the Fire

April 28, 2017

One of the final projects in Mr. McConnell’s American History II class is to complete Billy Joel’s song, “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. The song is a rap-like recitation of events and icons that travel through the singer’s 40 years as it tries to make some linear sense of the postwar years. Its lyrics include brief, rapid-fire allusions to more than 100 headline events between 1949, the year of Joel's birth, and 1989, when the song was released.

The students will research the years from 1990-2017 and finish the song on what they feel are the most important individuals or events in each year since 1989.  They are to have at least four different events for each year.  The events are to be written in a manner that models the song; rhyme and rhythm should follow the pattern. The students will make a slideshow of their finished product.  The more advanced slideshows will include a recording of their lyrics and music.  It is fun and exciting to see how creative the students are in completing this project.