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Singers sometimes make hits and end up hating them. You might like “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus, but the singer hates it. Billy Joel is also among many stars who hate their songs. The singer has trashed his 1989 song “We Didn’t Start the Fire” many times. Find out why he said the song was “terrible.”

John Lennon’s son’s friend inspired ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’

Whenever musical artists write songs, they intend for the single to sell and for the audience to get something from it. For Joel, writing “We Didn’t Start the Fire” meant accomplishing something else. According to Song Facts, when Joel was in the studio, John Lennon’s son, Sean Lennon, stopped by with his friend.

Joel said that when he was conversing with the friend, they started lamenting how bad things were for people who’d just come of age. The friend then claimed that Joel’s generation had it easy as things were much more idyllic when they grew up. The singer shared that Lennon’s friend said nothing much happened in the ’50s, which shocked Joel.

He told Fred Schruers that he wrote “We Didn’t Start the Fire” to get the youth to put historical context to the world events of the day. Schruers asked him, per The Things, “What does the song really mean? Is it an apologia for the baby boomers?” Joel replied, “No, it’s not. It’s just a song that says the world’s a mess. It’s always going to be a mess.”

The song has fast-paced lyrics detailing 118 significant cultural, political, and scientific events from 1949 until 1989 in chronological order. “We Didn’t Start the Fire” was a success, becoming Joel’s third single to top the US Billboard Hot 100. He also received a Grammy nod for the song.

Why Billy Joel hates the song

Joel once said he always wanted to be a teacher. While he never realized that dream, “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” served as a teachable moment for many youths. The music helped some people learn about past events with a catchy tune, which is still relevant today.

Despite its success and significance, Joel has made it clear that he can’t stand the song. During one question and answer session with an audience years ago, Joel was asked to expound more on the song, revealing he’d been asked to do more of the same concept. He said he refused the request noting that he’d already done “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” which he didn’t like, to begin with.

During the Q&A, he approaches a piano and plays part of the song’s melody with a bored look, after which he remarks, “When you take the melody by itself, it’s terrible,” likening it to “a dentist drill.” In 2014 when performing at the Air Canada Center, Joel botched the lyrics to the song and stopped to trash it, calling it “one of the worst melodies I ever wrote.”

Billy Joel hates these other famous tunes

billy joel
Billy Joel performs at Smoothie King Center on February 10, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. | Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Billy Joel Was ‘Embarrassed’ After ‘Piano Man’ Became a Hit

“We Didn’t Start the Fire” isn’t the only song Joel won’t mind if it disappeared from the face of Earth. According to Deseret News, Joel also can’t stand “Just The Way You Are,” saying he stopped performing it because he’s tired of it.

Joel said playing the song makes him feel like he’s “in a wedding band or in a cocktail lounge.” He also said he doesn’t like “Tell Her About It” and “Uptown Girl.”