A struggling songwriter is suing Billy Joel for $10 million, says Joel's hits "We Didn't Start the Fire" and "River of Dreams" are ripoffs of a song he offered to the singer years ago.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in New York, Gary Zimmerman said more than half of each song was based on Zimmerman's tune, "Nowhere Land."Joel's assistant, Jane Arginteanu, said she knew nothing of the lawsuit and refused further comment.

Zimmerman, 47, of Merrick, said he gave Joel a demo of "Nowhere Land" in 1986 and never heard back from him. "We Didn't Start the Fire" was released in 1989. "River of Dreams" came out last month.

Zimmerman said he decided to sue because "River of Dreams" had even stronger simil-ar-i-ties than "We Didn't Start the Fire."