Twitter Gives ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ Revamp in Wake of Covid-19

shortly before midnight Wednesday, March 11, Brittany Barkholtz, a therapist in St. Paul, was having fuss sleeping. By the clock she ’ d gone to bed, Donald Trump had attempted to reassure the area with a heavy prime-time address, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson had announced they ’ five hundred tested convinced for the coronavirus, Harvey Weinstein had been sentenced to 23 years in prison and the NBA had suspended the rest of its season after a Utah Jazz player had besides tested positivist for Covid-19 .
unable to sleep, Barkholtz popped onto social media and saw a tweet in her fertilize : “ nowadays was like if ‘ We Didn ’ thymine Start the Fire ’ was a day. ” The author was television receiver writer Matt Warburton, whose credits include The Simpsons and The Mindy Project .

Barkholtz, who besides teaches piano and is Billy Joel fan, took him up on his theme and, within a half-hour, had posted to her report a new verse for Joel ’ s history-chronology 1989 hit : “ Schools close, Tom Hanks, trouble in the big banks/No vaccine, quarantine, no more toilet newspaper seen/ Travel banish, Weinstein, panic Covid-19, NBA, gone away, what else do I have to say ? ”
“ I was born in 1990, and the song ends at the end of the Eighties, ” Barkholtz, 30, says. “ I said, ‘ We need a contribution two because everything in my animation came after that sung. ’ ”

While Barkholtz was inspired by Warburton ’ south tweet, others may have seen a like position by another veteran amusing and television writer, Mike Royce ( “ Billy Joel should do a modern version of ‘ We Didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate Start the Fire ’ that covers good like the last 10 minutes. ” ). Whatever triggered the course, over this weekend, dozens of people on social media — from professional writers to amateurs to music fans — wrote their own updated stanza for a hypothetical remake of “ We Didn ’ t Start the Fire. ”

Among them :
“ Tom Hanks is infected, flights from Europe re-directed/Quarantine, nowhere houseclean, panic in the U.S. ! ” ( Danielle Lerner on Twitter )
“ Flights from Europe banned from map/Sarah Palin tries to rap/They just shut down the NBA/What else do I have to say ? ” ( Alex Hirsch on Twitter )
“ Stocks and markets all derailed, Harvey ’ s gon na bunk in jail/Donnie ’ sulfur telling lies & tales/Cover up another fail ” ( Gav on Twitter )
“ Coronavirus, CDC /No one goes to Italy … Cruise ships stuck, There ’ s no TP/Private flights, no NBA ” ( JonBenet Lennon on Twitter )

To Barkholtz ’ second shock, her station wound up being retweeted more than 68,000 times over the next two days, thanks in separate to unexpected retweets by George Takei and Patton Oswalt. Oswalt even weighed in with his own mind for a chorus : “ We didn ’ thymine stop the virus/Could have been prevented/But our leader ’ south demented. ”
During national tragedies, sealed songs have been elevated in the culture ; after 9/11, Jeff Buckley ’ south version of Leonard Cohen ’ s “ Hallelujah ” became the ad-lib soundtrack for footage of the World Trade Center debris and rescue workers. While it ’ s besides early to gauge which start songs will become the reassuring accompaniment for this faze time in the country and around the world, an early rival is “ We Didn ’ thyroxine Start the Fire ” — more specifically, these unauthorized additions .

If any song is good for an update, it ’ s “ We Didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate Start the Fire. ” First appearing on Joel ’ s 1989 Storm Front album, the song grew out of a conversation between Joel and Sean Lennon, then a adolescent and anxious over events of the late Eighties, including agitation in the Middle East and Europe. “ He said, ‘ nothing happened in the Fifties and early Sixties, ’ ” Joel subsequently recalled. “ And the history teacher in me went, ‘ Whoa, didn ’ t you ever hear of the Korean War, the Suez Canal, the hungarian Freedom Fighters ? ’ ”
Starting with “ Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray, ” Joel began scribbling down events from the previous 40 years, which, he said in a 1990 consultation, “ started looking like a rap song. ”
It wasn ’ t quite hip hop — Joel late called the melody “ awful … like a droning mosquito. ” But the birdcall wound up name-dropping political and cultural touchstones from the end of World War II to the conclusion of the Eighties : the Cold War, the blacklist, Elvis, the space rush, Disneyland, JFK, up to “ Woodstock, Watergate, hood ” and the “ rock and roller Cola wars. ” It was about a war cry for aid from person overwhelmed by the onslaught of news and change in the post-Sixties universe .
As Joel told biographer Fred Schruers, “ What does the song truly mean ? Is it an apology for the baby boomers ? No, it ’ s not. It ’ second just a song that says the world ’ s a mess. It ’ mho always been a batch, it ’ mho always going to be a mess. ”
At the time, it struck enough of a chord to score three Grammy nominations, including Song and Record of Year ( both of which it lost to the Bette Midler-sung “ Wind Beneath My Wings ” ). The song has since been parodied on The Simpsons ( “ They ’ ll Never Stop the Simpsons ” ) and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon ( by mold members of Avengers : endgame ) .

But “ We Didn ’ triiodothyronine Start the Fire ” hasn ’ thyroxine had quite a moment like this since early 1990, when Joel ’ south label, Columbia, distributed 40,000 cassettes of “ We Didn ’ thymine Start the Fire ” in issues of Junior Scholastic cartridge holder. Soon adequate, kids around the area were writing school papers about some of the historical events mentioned in the birdcall .
Bruce Handy, an writer and contributing editor to Vanity Fair, had a similar experience to Barkholtz. He excessively woke up in the center of the night, popped onto Twitter, and saw either Warburton ’ s or Royce ’ second tweet. Soon enough, he had besides dashed off and shared his own modern verse : “ Harvey jailed, White House failed, Travel ban Jared ’ second design ? /No tests, Be best, Call your doctor, Where ’ mho Ivanka/NBA, NDA, CDC, OMG/Tom Hanks, Dow tanks, Bernie Biden, Death Toll risin ’, Sarah Palin MASS CONTAGION ! ! ! ”

“ It ’ s become the most retweeted and most see thing I ’ ve ever done, ” Handy says. “ normally I get about 50 likes, but this was in the thousands. ”

Barkholtz, whose verse is among the most popular, says she ’ second been overwhelmed and amused by the response. “ Plenty of people have said I should do a whole birdcall, which could be fun, ” she says. “ It ’ s violent to me because I ’ meter not an entertainer or a humorist. I ’ meter precisely a drilling normal person who made a Billy Joel joke. People are requesting ‘ message ’ from me now. It ’ sulfur hilarious. ” ( Joel himself was unavailable for comment. none of the social-media writers have been contacted by Joel ’ second camp. )
But as a train therapist and social worker who deals with those coping with depression and anxiety issues, including college students and teenagers, Barkholtz thinks there ’ second more behind the swerve than equitable fun .
“ There ’ s thus much uncertainty and anxiety now, and liquid body substance is a solid collar mechanism, ” she says. “ Everything now is identical overwhelm and nerve-racking, and this is a room for people to say, ‘ I can cope with it by making a joke on chirrup about it, and not an insensitive joke. ’ It defuses the tension while acknowledging that these things are placid going on. ”

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