Billy Joel was not just an artist, he was also a history fanatic. He said himself if he had not become and artist a history teacher was the path he wanted to take.
1949: Harry Truman became the U.S. President after President Roosevelt died in 1945. Truman was a big part of history considering he was responsible for dropping the atomic bombs on Japan and ending World War II. Afterwards Truman initiated the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe. He started his second term in 1949, defeating Thomas Dewey. During this term he also brought the United States into the Korean War. Harry Truman was one of the most unpopular politicians in the United States, this connects to today because our current president has the lowest approval rate. Truman was nicknamed, "Give 'Em Hell Harry." I believe Joel put this in his song because presidents are always a part of history, and he wants people to know about a little about his time being president.
1950: Marilyn Monroe is known as a 'sex symbol' but she was also married to baseball hero Joe Dimaggio and later Arthur Miller. There were also rumors she had relationships with President John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, as well as mafia boss Joe Gianconna. This shows that men didn't care how many men she's been with, because she was so 'hot,' I feel like this was important because it is how many boys/men are still doing that same thing to this day. I think he included this in the song to make people think about how Marilyn had more to do with history, than you think. I bet you didn't know that Marilyn's first marriage was arranged.
1952: On February 6, 1952, Queen Elizabeth 2 ascended to the throne upon the death of her father, King George 6.This was a great event, not only in Britain but in all the countries of the British Commonwealth. It was also big news in the United States and many other countries as well. Filmed documentaries of the event circulated in Commonwealth countries for a long time after the event and every school child was taken to organized cinema screenings in school time. This is important to show British history. The UK still has a queen today. Fun Fact: Queen Elizabeth owned more than 30 corgis over her reign. I think he added this to show who Britain's queen was.
1957: Nine African-American students enrolled at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Governor Faubus ordered the Arkansas National Guard to surround Central High School to keep the nine students from entering the school, because he believed black and whites should be segregated.President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the 101st Airborne Division into Little Rock to insure the safety of the students. The crisis gained world-wide attention. This shows how racism was back then. Racism still faintly exists today. Fun fact: one of the Little Rock Nine, Minnijean Brown, was suspended in December for dropping chili on some boys after they refused to let her pass to her seat in the cafeteria. I think he put this in the song because he felt black history is important as well.
1958: Thalidomide was a medication intended for pregnant women to combat morning sickness and as an aid to help them sleep. Children of women who took the drug thalidomide during pregnancy were born with severe deformities, including only stubs for arms. Because of this, the drug was eventually taken off the market. Only about half of the children with the birth defects, actually lived. Today the drug is allowed to be used to prevent nausea in chemo patients. Slow heart rate is a side effect of Thalidomide. He added this to let people know about the drugs.
1960:Psycho was a thriller movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock. young woman, steals some money from work and leaves town, getting a room at the Bates Motel. A shy man runs the motel with his mother. The most memorable scene is when the young women is stabbed to death while taking a shower, apparently by the mother. But in the end, it was the man who was "psycho" and took on the character of the mother to kill women who stopped at the motel. This was a very popular movie. Thriller movies are still popular today. I believe he included this movie because it was a great movie and highly popular. Fun fact: Psycho was the first American film to feature a toilet on the screen.
1961: Stranger in a Strange Land was an award-winning fictional book by Robert Heinlein about Valentine Smith, who was born during the first manned mission to Mars and was the only survivor. He is raised by Martians, and when he arrived on Earth he had no knowledge of anything about the planet or its cultures. He had never even seen a woman. But he was the legal heir to an enormous financial empire. He then explored human morality and the meanings of love and founded his own church, preaching free love. This relates to foreigners coming to America. I believe it was in the song as a metaphor, because it is like when people come from foreign countries, they know almost nothing about American culture. Fun act: the stories development took 13 years.
1961: the Eisenhower Administration created a plan to overthrow Fidel Castro in Cuba. In April of 1961, John F. Kennedy allowed the attack on Cuba. Armed Cuban exiles sailed from Florida and landed at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba. Because of poor planning by Kennedy, as well as spies and U.S. government leaks, Castro was ready for the attack. The exiles were all either captured or killed. President Kennedy was greatly criticized for the failure of the mission. Government leaks still get out today but not often. Fun fact: the Cuban exiles were trained by the CIA in Guatemala.
1963: Malcolm X came into the news when he preached separation of the races as part of the Black Muslim teachings. Similar to Martin Luther King Jr. Malcolm had dreams of everyone being equal. Today African Americans are still fighting to be accepted, in some places more than other. He started to champion economic and social equality for blacks. This brought about respectability among all races, but then members of the Nation of Islam made death threats to Malcolm X for separating from their movement. In February 1965, he was assassinated. Three members for the Nation of Islam were arrested and convicted of the murder. Malcolm is a big part of black history. Fun fact: Malcolm X drastically increased membership in the Nation of Islam from 500 members to 25,000 members in the span of eleven years.
1963: President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Kennedy was riding in an open-top automobile in a presidential motorcade when Lee Harvey Oswald shot him through the head with a sniper rifle from a sixth floor window of a nearby building. Lee was arrested eighty minutes later after killing a Dallas police officer. He was found hiding in a movie theater. He claimed he was innocent of killing Kennedy and was being set up. Later, he confessed his guilt to his brother. Oswald was killed two days later while he was being transported to the Dallas Jail. Nightclub owner Jack Ruby shot Oswald in front of police officers and a national television news audience. Lately presidents haven't been assassinated but JFK wasn't the only one. Fun fact: Kennedy installed a secret taping system in the White House.
1965: Ho Chi-Minh was the leader of the Communist North Vietnamese, who first fought the French and then the Americans. He organized the Communist revolution in Vietnam and can be given much of the credit for reuniting Vietnam under communist rule. Ho Chi Minh was actually named Nguyen Tat Thanh. Fun fact: Ho Chi Minh wasn’t always fighting against American forces. In fact, he helped out the Americans in World War II.
1989: Bernie Goetz was a New Yorker who was concerned about crime in the city. After he got on a subway in the afternoon, four African-Americans approached Goetz and demanded $5 from him. He pulled out a gun and shot all four. Then he shot one of the youths again, as he lay on the floor, severing the spinal cord and paralyzing him. He escaped but later turned himself in. Some saw him as a hero, but some also saw what he did and thought it was wrong. He was only sentenced to 8 months in jail. Fun fact: the person he paralyzed sued and won $43 million.