Fire (Bruce Springsteen song)

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"Fire"
Single by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
from the album Live/1975-85
B-side "Incident on 57th Street" (live)
Released January 1987
Format 7" single
Recorded Winterland, San Francisco
December 16, 1978
Genre Rock
Length 2:58
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Bruce Springsteen
Producer(s) Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau, Chuck Plotkin
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band singles chronology
"War"
(1986)
"Fire"
(1987)
"Brilliant Disguise"
(1987)
For other songs of this name, see Fire (song)

"Fire" is a song written by Bruce Springsteen in 1977 which had its highest profile as a 1978 single release by the Pointer Sisters.

Bruce Springsteen versions[edit]

Bruce Springsteen envisioned "Fire" as a song which could be recorded by his idol Elvis Presley, the song being written during the period after Springsteen had seen Presley live at a May 28, 1977 concert at the Spectrum (Philadelphia): Springsteen would allege "I sent Elvis a demo of it but he died August 16, 1977 before it arrived."[1]

Springsteen did complete a studio recording of "Fire" which was one of 52 tracks at least partially recorded which did not make the cut for Springsteen's June 2, 1978 album release Darkness on the Edge of Town: these tracks were omitted on the grounds of inconsistency with Springsteen's ultimate thematic vision for that album, and Springsteen's manager Jon Landau has speculated that Springsteen likely had an especial concern that if included on Darkness on the Edge of Town "Fire" would be Columbia Records' single of choice despite being non-representative of the overall album.[citation needed]

Springsteen's disinterest in showcasing "Fire" on Darkness on the Edge of Town reportedly did not preclude his being upset when the Pointer Sisters recorded a version of "Fire" which reached #2 in January 1979, easily besting all of Springsteen's own single releases to that point which had all had Top 20 shortfalls:[2] Springsteen's first single release subsequent to the Pointer Sisters' success with "Fire" would be "Hungry Heart" (1980) a track heavily customized to have Top 40 appeal and would reach #5 becoming the first of Springsteen's twelve Top Ten hits to date.

Despite its omission from the Darkness on the Edge of Town album, "Fire" was included in the set list of Springsteen's Darkness Tour and has been a Springsteen concert staple ever since. On the 1986 Springsteen concert album Live/1975-85 "Fire" is represented by a December 16, 1978 performance at Winterland in San Francisco, the track being heavily edited to eliminate Springsteen's on-stage vocal hijinks. Issued as a single, this version of "Fire" reached #46 on the Billboard Hot 100 and also charted in Ireland (#18), the UK (#54), Australia (#82). The music video to promote the single was an acoustic performance of the song by Springsteen at a Bridge School Benefit concert in 1986.

The studio version of "Fire" by Bruce Springsteen was first released on the The Promise box set and a video version appears on the associated The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story as part of the Thrill Hill Vault Houston '78 Bootleg: House Cut DVD.

Robert Gordon version[edit]

"Fire"
Single by Robert Gordon with Link Wray
from the album Fresh Fish Special
B-side "If This Is Wrong"
Released March 1978
Format 7" single
Genre Rock
Length 2:47
Label Private Stock
Writer(s) Bruce Springsteen
Producer(s) Richard Gottehrer, Robert Gordon

The first released recording of "Fire" was by neo-rockabilly singer Robert Gordon who was offered the song by Springsteen after the latter saw a live gig by Gordon and Link Wray: according to Gordon "it was a choice between 'Fire' and another new song but [Springsteen] decided to keep the other one for himself."[3] Springsteen played piano on Gordon's recording of "Fire" which was released on Gordon's 1978 album Fresh Fish Special.


Pointer Sisters version[edit]

"Fire"
Single by The Pointer Sisters
from the album Energy
B-side "Love Is Like a Rolling Stone"
Released 2 October 1978
Format 7" single
Recorded 1978
Genre Rock. R&B
Length 3:28
Label Planet
Writer(s) Bruce Springsteen
Producer(s) Richard Perry
Certification Gold
The Pointer Sisters singles chronology
"I Need a Man"
(1977)
"Fire"
(1978)
"Everybody Is a Star"
(1979)

Anita Pointer of the Pointer Sisters would recall: "['Fire'] became our first gold single: we had had gold albums before but I didn't realize what a difference a gold single made 'cause...that one song [is played] over and over all over the world. ['Fire'] really became a major hit for us and made a total difference in our career."[4]

Recorded for their 1978 album Energy, "Fire" was the inaugural single by the Pointer Sisters as the trio of Anita, June and Ruth Pointer. The lead vocal on the track was by Anita Pointer who on hearing a demo of the song with an Elvis Presley-type vocal had told producer Richard Perry: "It's too low for me: I guess you want Ruthie to sing it" to which Perry replied: "No - I want you to sing it."[4] Rising as high as #2 on the Hot 100 in Billboard magazine in February 1979, (behind Rod Stewart's "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?") "Fire" would eventually be tied by "Slow Hand" (1981) as the Pointer Sister's highest-charting single. A hit on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Adult Contemporary charts at respectively #14 and #22, "Fire" would also afford the Pointer Sisters an international chart hit, reaching #1 in Belgium, the Netherlands, South Africa and New Zealand, and charting in Australia (#7), Austria (#10), Canada (#3), Germany (#35) and the UK (#34).

Chart performance[edit]

Chart Peak
position
Austrian Top 40 10
Australian Kent Music Report 7
Belgium VRT Top 30 1
Canadian RPM Top Singles 3
Dutch Top 40 1
German Top 100 35
New Zealand RIANZ Singles 1
South African Top 30 1
UK Singles Chart 34
US Billboard Hot 100 2
US Billboard R&B Singles[5] 14
US Billboard Adult Contemporary[6] 21
Preceded by
"Chiquitita" by ABBA
Dutch Top 40 number-one single
March 10, 1979 - March 31, 1979
Succeeded by
"Lay Your Love on Me" by Racey
Preceded by
"Y.M.C.A." by Village People
New Zealand RIANZ Top 40 number one single
March 11, 1979
Succeeded by
"Tragedy" by Bee Gees


Other notable cover versions[edit]

Shakin' Stevens had an early single release with it in 1978 as a B-Side to his early single "Endless Sleep". It was swapped to the A-Side within a very scarce Dutch picture sleeve pressing of the single, which now is valued at £200+.[7] In 1984 the Henning Stærk Band (da) recorded the song for their album One Nite Stand, and the 1988 live album The Ahoy Concert by Anita Meyer included her version of "Fire".

A number of other artists covered the song in the 1990s and 2000s. Cher performed the song on the "Love Hurts Tour" in 1992. Enrique Iglesias and Tom Jones performed the song live, but did not include it in any album. In 1992 the Gaston Brothers (sv/sv) recorded "Fire" for their album Är Dé Party Eller Är Dé...Party . A cover version of "Fire" was recorded by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and Des'ree for the soundtrack of the 1998 motion picture Hav Plenty. This particular version has a beat that makes it suitable for dancing Bachata. In 2002 Fleurine (nl) recorded her album Fire which featured the Springsteen composition as its title cut.

Link Wray, rockabilly guitarist who played on the Robert Gordon version, released his own version on his 1997 live album Walkin' Down A Street Called Love. In 2001, contemporary jazz guitarist Chuck Loeb covered the song on his release In a Heartbeat.[8][9]

Anna Calvi remade "Fire" in 2013: it serves as B-side for her December 23, 2013 single release "Suddenly".

The fictitious Austrian artist Kurt Ostbahn (played by musician Willi Resetarits) made a German cover of the song called "Feuer" (The word "fire" sounds similar in Viennese dialect) in the year 1985. Other non-English rendering of "Fire" include "Feigling" (German) by Ingrid Peters, "Le Feu" (French) by Michèle Richard (fr) and "Teesklus" (Estonian) by Rock Hotel (et).

In popular culture[edit]

In a stand-up routine recorded on his album Reality...What a Concept, Robin Williams performed the song as if it were sung by Elmer Fudd.

Kristin Chenoweth and Matthew Morrison, in character as April Rhodes and Will Schuester respectively, sing "Fire" as a duet in the Glee episode "Home".

References[edit]

  1. ^ Clinton Heylin. E-Street Shuffle: The Glory Days of Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band. Viking Penguin (NYC), 1st US ed., 2013 unpaged
  2. ^ Marc Dolan. Bruce Springsteen and the promise of rock 'n' roll. W. W. Norton & Co (NYC), 1st ed 2012. ISBN 978-0-393-08135-0 p.167
  3. ^ Lakeland Ledger June 12, 1978 p. 15
  4. ^ a b Sisters, Pointer (February 18, 2014). Bullseye with Jesse Thorn. Interview with Jesse Thorn. Bullseye. NPR. 
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 465. 
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 194. 
  7. ^ Marsh, Dave. Glory Days: Bruce Springsteen in the 1980s. Pantheon Books, 1987. ISBN 0-394-54668-7.
  8. ^ "In a Heartbeat overview". Allmusic. 
  9. ^ "In a Heartbeat Chuck Loeb". JazzTimes. 

External links[edit]