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"We didn't Start the Fire"

Billy Joel

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio

Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe

Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, "The King and I" and "The Catcher in the Rye"

Eisenhower, vaccine, England's got a new Queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye


We didn't start the fire
It was 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

Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc

Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, dacron
Dien Bien Phu falls, "Rock Around the Clock"

Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn's got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland

Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Krushchev
Princess Grace, "Peyton Place", trouble in the Suez


Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac
Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, "Bridge on the River Kwai"

Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball
Starkweather homicide, children of thalidomide

Buddy Holly, "Ben Hur", space monkey, Mafia
Hula hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go

U-2, Syngman Rhee, payola and Kennedy
Chubby Checker, "Psycho", Belgians in the Congo


Hemingway, Eichmann, "Stranger in a Strange Land"
Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion

"Lawrence of Arabia", British Beatlemania
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson

Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex
JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say


Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline
Ayatollah's in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan
"Wheel of Fortune", Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide
Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, crack, Bernie Goetz
Hypodermics on the shores, China's under martial law
Rock and roller, cola wars, I can't take it anymore


We didn't start the fire
But when we are gone
Will it still burn on, and on, and on, and on...

This song by Billy Joel gives an outline of important (as well as less important) events, persons, etc. from 1949 to 1989, and the text itself is therefore not too difficult to understand. The difficult part is of course to understand what everything is about. This is exactly what you are supposed to find out!
You may find a lot of help in section 11, section 12 and section 13 of this outline of American history.!

There are five stanzas and a refrain. Organize four groups. All the groups except one concentrate on five of the stanzas, and the remaining group works with the 1964 - 89 period. Each of the groups is supposed to give a good, oral explanation of all the events, etc.

Present your results in class.
Encourage your fellow students to give their opinion on some of the controversial aspects of events/persons.

If you want to study an example of how you may present your stanza on the Web, please, take a look at this.

"We didn't Start the Fire" is a kind of stream of conciousness covering the postwar decades seen from an American's point-of-view. Discuss with your History, Social Science and/or Norwegian teachers whether the song is relevant to Norway as well. Specify the parts you don't find meaningful to Norwegians of your own age - and - to your parents' generation. What would you like to add instead ?
"Troll" (the car), King's Bay, the European Union (EU), Alexander Kielland, blow-outs, Former Yoguslavia, .......? You just name it ! (and explain it!)

Some help...

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