On September 27, 1989, the iconic song by Billy Joel,  We Didn’t Start the Fire hit the airwaves.  It was a history lesson set to music.  When you first heard the song, did you know or remember all the people places, things and events mentioned in the lyrics?  I sure didn’t.  Back in 1989 before the internet was something everyone had access to, my boyfriend (now husband) and I headed to the local public library and looked up all the historical references.  This month, for the A to Z Challenge, I am writing about that history.

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
Today is brought to you by the letter D.  Billy Joel’s song lyrics begin with 1949,  the year of his birth on May 9, 1949.  Today I begin with an person mentioned for that year.
1949 Doris Day
Long before she crooned her trademark song, “Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)”, which she introduced in the film The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), Doris Day was making films.  In 1949 she starred in two, My Dream Is Yours  and It’s a Great Feeling.

Doris Day enters the public spotlight with the films My Dream Is Yours and It’s a Great Feeling as well as popular songs like “It’s Magic”; divorces her second husband.

1954 Dacron

DuPont purchased the rights to Dr. Wallace Hume Carothers’s organic chemical research in 1945 after he developed synthetic nylon from polyester. Chemical engineers at DuPont dedicated an entire laboratory to perfect Dacron, which is known for its durability, resistance to degradation and high tensile strength. They patented the fabric in 1953.  Suits made of the synthetic fabric began to debut in May of 1951, with items sold by Deering, Milliken & Co., and a $79.50 model from Hart, Schaffner & Marx. Adjusting for inflation, the suit would sell for more than $650 today.  Dacron became commercially available for medical use in 1957. The synthetic fiber was used to graft arteries and veins during bypass surgery. Dacron was widely used in vascular surgery from the late 1950s through the 1970s.  Dacron is a polymer obtained through chemical reactions between ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid. The synthetic fabric is used in curtains, fire hoses, dresses, men’s suits, sails, knitted wear, woven sportswear and many other applications.

Dacron is an early artificial fiber made from the same plastic as polyester.


1954 Dien Bien Phu Falls

On May 7, 1954, the French-held garrison at Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam fell after a four month siege led by Vietnamese nationalist Ho Chi Minh. After the fall of Dien Bien Phu, the French pulled out of the region. Concerned about regional instability, the United States became increasingly committed to countering communist nationalists in Indochina. The United States would not pull out of Vietnam for another twenty years.

Dien Bien Phu falls. A village in North Vietnam falls to Viet Minh forces under Vo Nguyen Giap, leading to the creation of North Vietnam and South Vietnam as separate states.


1955 Davy Crockett

Davy Crockett was a five-part serial which aired on ABC from 1954-1955 in one-hour episodes, on the Disneyland series. The series starred Fess Parker as real-life frontiersman Davy Crockett and Buddy Ebsen as his friend, George Russel.  The first three episodes of the serial were edited together as the theatrical film Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier (1955) and rebroadcast in color in the 1960s, when the Disney program went to NBC. This series and film are known for the catchy theme song, “The Ballad of Davy Crockett”. It was filmed in color at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at the Mountain Farm Museum adjacent to the visitor center at Oconaluftee, near Qualla Reservation’s entrance and Janss Conejo Ranch, California.  The final two episodes were edited together as the theatrical film Davy Crockett and the River Pirates (1956). It was filmed in Cave-In-Rock, Illinois.

Davy Crockett is a Disney television miniseries about the legendary frontiersman of the same name. The show was a huge hit with young boys and inspired a short-lived “coonskin cap” craze.

1955 Disneyland

Disneyland, Walt Disney’s metropolis of nostalgia, fantasy, and futurism, opens on July 17, 1955.  The $17 million theme park was built on 160 acres of former orange groves in Anaheim, California, and soon brought in staggering profits. Today, Disneyland hosts more than 14 million visitors a year, who spend close to $3 billion.

Disneyland opens on July 17, 1955 as Walt Disney’s first theme park.


1961 Dylan

On April 11, 1961, Bob Dylan plays his first major gig in New York City. A number of major developments in the year that followed would set Bob Dylan on his road toward stardom, but the very first of those was his appearance at Gerde’s Folk City.

Bob Dylan is signed to Columbia Records after a New York Times review by critic Robert Shelton.

This is not the 1961 event but it is Dylan from 1963 on television

Tune in tomorrow which is brought to you by the letter E: Edsel is a no go, Eihmann, Eisnstein, Eisenhower, Elvis Presley and England’s Got A New Queen.







10 responses

  1. Denise says:

    I read yesterday that Doris Day just found out that she is two years older than she thought. When you are 95 it hardly seems to matter. I remember watching Davy Crockett. And the opening of Disneyland.


  2. Liam says:

    Doris Day reminds me of an episode of M*A*S*H when Colonel Potter has Radar play “Sentimental Journey” over and over again.


  3. doreeweller says:

    I remember playing this song 8,000 times so I could learn all the lyrics. Thanks for the interesting history lesson.
    Doree Weller


  4. …and the `Catcher in the Rye… I think they’e the only lyrics I always get right to this song.
    D = Death and a doo-dad


  5. Liz Brownlee says:

    That was a lot of research! Blowin’ in the Wind – I have all his early albums, still on vinyl.

    E is for Shirin Ebadi – first Iranian to win a Nobel Peace Prize #AtoZ Challenge


  6. Birgit says:

    Doris just had her birthday! She keeps on going which is great…just like Olivia De Havilland and Betty White. Your blog is showing how intelligent this song truly is.


  7. Arlee Bird says:

    In 1955 I had my official Davy Crockett coonskin cap and probably an assortment of other Crockett things including a 78 record version of the theme song. Too bad I didn’t keep all those things–they might be worth something now.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out