Billy Joel “doesn’t get the hate” for *this* number-one hit of his

Columbia Records

Anyone can start a podcast that talks about an artist, but what about an entire podcast series about a single song?  We Didn’t Start the Fire: The History Podcast is solely devoted to Billy Joel‘s 1989 number-one hit, and a few days ago, the Piano Man himself appeared on it to discuss the song, its legacy and, surprisingly, how much people dislike it.

“The only thing I’ve heard about that song from people is, ‘I hate that song!'” Billy told podcast hosts Katie Puckrik and Tom Fordyce. “Some people hate that song. It’s one of the most hated things I ever wrote! And I don’t get the hate.”

“I mean, I hate the music, because it’s not good,” Billy admitted. “But I think the lyrics are fairly clever, I think I did a pretty good job with the words, but some people just hate that thing.”

As for why the music isn’t good, Billy explained, “I wrote the words first, which is why the music is so horrible in that song. I usually write the music first and then I write the lyrics, but in that song, the melody…it’s like a mosquito buzzing around your head! It’s more annoying than musical.”

Each episode of the podcast is a deep dive into one of the historical figures or event named in the song, from Eisenhower and The King and I, to Liberace and Joseph Stalin.  Billy discusses what inspired the song, why he chose to mention certain people, and answers trivia questions about those people.

By the way, despite its “horrible” music, “We Didn’t Start the Fire” is one of only three Billboard Hot 100 number-one hits Billy has had in his career, next to “It’s Still Rock ‘n Roll to Me” and “Tell Her About It.”

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