Pete Wentz on why Fall Out Boy’s updated ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’ doesn’t mention COVID

The band shared a 2023 version of the iconic track this week

Fall Out Boy‘s Pete Wentz has discussed the band’s updated version of Billy Joel‘s ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’ and why it doesn’t reference COVID.

This week, the band shared a new and updated version of the iconic hit, featuring lyrics from between its original release in 1989 and the present day.

In the original track, the lyrics included: “Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray / South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio / Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television / North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe.”


These have been swapped out in the Fall Out Boy version for: “Captain Planet, Arab Spring, LA riots, Rodney King, deep fakes, earthquakes, Iceland volcano, Oklahoma City bomb, Kurt Cobain, Pokémon, Tiger Woods, MySpace, Monsanto GMOs.”

Now, Wentz has shared his explanations on the lyrics, and reasoning behind one big omission. “Dude, honestly, this idea has been brewing for so long,” Wentz told Zane Lowe on Apple Music. “I’ve been trying to get somebody to do this for so long because it just seems so perfect. 30 years later … I’ve been trying to do it.”

He added: “So we’re 34 years later, I think. And so I’ve been trying to get somebody to do it for … four years. And finally Patrick [Stump] was like, ‘We should just do it.’ And listen, this song was just a … I remember listening to the original when I was little and I was like, ‘I don’t know what half this stuff is.’ And it made me look up a bunch of this stuff. So, it was just interesting thinking about the stuff we would include versus you wouldn’t. Because there’s some stuff that was in the original that kind of is lost to the sands of time. You know what I mean? So yeah, we just did it. We put it together. It’s just a fun, goofy thing, you know what I mean?”

He added: “Listen, we did our best. It’s very, very, very difficult. His is not totally in chronological order, but it’s more in chronological order than ours. We just wanted the JFK blown away line, and clearly, I think that the World Trade one was a little more… that was probably… People probably felt a similar way. You remember where you were or whatever. So it’s just a little bit out of order, but it is what it is. Listen, we wanted the Internet to still have something to complain about.”

On lyrics that they left out, Wentz said: “There were things that were in that we kind of bailed on because we thought other things were more important and less important.


“The thing I liked about the original is that it’s just kind of a time capsule, so it’s just got things in it, but there’s no judgment on it or whatever. It’s just of like, ‘Here are these things that happened.’ There’s triumphant characters and there’s despair and it’s just kind of the tapestry of human existence. And so, I think we kind of tried to do that.”

And discussing why they left out references to COVID, the bassist and songwriter revealed: “It’s like, that’s all anybody talked… You know what I mean? I don’t know. It felt like there was a couple of things that felt like a little on the nose. And then there were a couple of things where it was like … Bush V. Gore, we needed the rhyme.”

In other Fall Out Boy news, the pop-punk band will be featured on the song ‘Electric Touch’ from Taylor Swift’s forthcoming LP ‘Speak Now (Taylor’s Verson)’.

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