Billy Joel kind of hates "We Didn't Start the Fire": "One of the worst melodies I ever wrote"

Joel messes up then comes clean that he isn't the biggest fan of one of his most famous tunes

Published March 14, 2014 8:07PM (EDT)


Billy Joel, whom I have never seen perform live but I imagine is something of a crowd pleaser when it comes to playing all the hits, performed last week at Toronto's Air Canada Centre and returned for an encore to play "We Didn't Start the Fire."

But he messed it up! It was kind of great!

“That ain’t right … All you gotta do is fuck up one word in the song and it’s a train wreck … Where were we? … Go to the next song, fuck it …  It’s the same thing verse after verse, just the words change — na na na, na na na, na na na na na na. One of the worst melodies I ever wrote.”

Despite saying he wanted to call it off and admitting that he kind of hates the song, Joel finished it anyway because Billy Joel 100 percent knows how to give the people what they want, and what they want is Billy Joel playing "We Didn't Start the Fire" even though he messed it up a little.

Joel finished the song, then made peace with the fact that the flub would eventually wind up on the Internet (Hi Billy Joel!) by calling it "an authentic rock-and-roll fuckup."

What a delight this guy is.

Watch it here:

h/t Grantland

By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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