WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE
FROM A TO Z
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everyone had access to, my boyfriend (now husband) and I headed to the local public library and looked up all the historical references.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.
1949 – Johnnie Ray
John Alvin “Johnnie” Ray (January 10, 1927 – February 24, 1990) was an American singer, songwriter, and pianist. Extremely popular for most of the 1950s, Ray has been cited by critics as a major precursor of what would become rock and roll, for his jazz and blues-influenced music and his animated stage personality. Tony Bennett credits Ray as being the true father of rock and roll. Recognize the name. I did not here is one of his hits.
1949 – Joe DiMaggio
Joseph Paul “Joe” DiMaggio (November 25, 1914 – March 8, 1999), nicknamed “Joltin’ Joe” and “The Yankee Clipper”, was an American Major League Baseball center fielder who played his entire 13-year career for the New York Yankees. He is perhaps best known for his 56-game hitting streak (May 15 – July 16, 1941), a record that still stands. DiMaggio was a three-time MVP winner and an All-Star in each of his 13 seasons. During his tenure with the Yankees, the club won ten American League pennants and nine World Series championships. At the time of his retirement, he ranked fifth in career home runs (361) and sixth in career slugging percentage (.579). He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955, and was voted the sport’s greatest living player in a poll taken during the baseball centennial year of 1969. So why did Billy Joel list him in 1949? Joe DiMaggio and the New York Yankees go to the World Series five times in the 1940s, winning four of them. 1949 was one of them.
1950 – Joe McCarthy
On February 9, 1950, during a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, Senator Joseph McCarthy (Republican-Wisconsin) claims that he has a list with the names of over 200 members of the Department of State that are “known communists.” The speech vaulted McCarthy to national prominence and sparked a nationwide hysteria about subversives in the American government. In the next few weeks, the number fluctuated wildly, with McCarthy stating at various times that there were 57, or 81, or 10 communists in the Department of State. In fact, McCarthy never produced any solid evidence that there was even one communist in the State Department. Hmm fact checking 1950s style.
1953 – Joseph Stalin
On March 5, 1953, Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union since 1924, dies in Moscow. He was 74 year-old. Stalin did not mellow with age; he prosecuted a reign of terror,
purges, executions, exiles to the Gulag Archipelago (a system of forced-labor camps in the frozen north), and persecution in the postwar USSR, suppressing all dissent and anything that smacked of foreign, especially Western European, influence. To the great relief of many, he died of a massive heart attack on March 5, 1953. He is remembered to this day as the man who helped save his nation from Nazi domination—and as the mass murderer of the century, having overseen the deaths of between 8 million and 10 million of his own people.
1954 – Juan Peron
Juan Domingo Perón [8 October 1895 – 1 July 1974] was an Argentine lieutenant general and politician. 1954 was his last full year in office. After serving in several government positions, including Minister of Labour and Vice President, he was thrice elected President of Argentina, serving from June 1946 to September 1955, when he was overthrown in a coup d’état, and then from October 1973 until his death in July 1974.
During his first presidential term (1946–52), Perón was supported by his second wife, Eva Duarte (“Evita”), and the two were immensely popular among many Argentines. Eva died in 1952, and Perón was elected to a second term, serving from 1952 until 1955. During the following period of two military dictatorships, interrupted by two civilian governments, the Peronist party was outlawed and Perón was exiled. When the left-wing Peronist Hector Cámpora was elected President in 1973, Perón returned to Argentina and was soon after elected President for a third time. His third wife, María Estela Martínez, known as Isabel Perón, was elected as Vice President on his ticket and succeeded him as President upon his death in 1974.
So for any excuse to include some of the music from Evita, I share the following from Youtube
Private and public moments from life of the most charismatic couple of Argentina – Eva & Juan Peron. Their feelings, work and tragedy of Eva’s cancer.
Music: “You Must Love Me” by Madonna, Evita Motion Picture Soundtrack.