Fire and Rain

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For the TV movie about the crash of Delta Air Lines Flight 191, see Fire and Rain (movie).
"Fire and Rain"
Single by James Taylor
from the album Sweet Baby James
B-side "Anywhere Like Heaven" (US) & "Sunny Skies" (UK)
Released February 1970
Format 7"
Recorded December, 1969 at Sunset Sound
Genre Soft rock, Folk rock
Length 3:20
Label Warner Bros.
Writer(s) James Taylor
Producer(s) Peter Asher
James Taylor singles chronology
"Sweet Baby James"
"Fire and Rain"
"Carolina in My Mind"

"Fire and Rain" is a folk rock song written and performed by James Taylor. It appeared on his second album, Sweet Baby James. The album was released in February 1970, with the song being released as a single that month. "Fire and Rain" hit #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.[citation needed] It eventually sold over a million US singles, but never received its corresponding certification.[citation needed].

Carole King is the pianist on the song. Drummer Russ Kunkel used brushes rather than sticks on his drum kit and Bobby West played double bass using a bow.[citation needed]

"Fire and Rain" is in the 227th position on Rolling Stone′s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.[citation needed]

Origin of the song[edit]

Taylor has related different versions of what the song is about.

On the VH1 series Story Tellers, Taylor said the song was actually about several incidents during his early recording career. The second line of the song, "Suzanne the plans they made put an end to you," refers to Suzanne Schnerr, a childhood friend of his who committed suicide while he was in London, England, recording his first album.[1] In that same account, Taylor said he had been in a deep depression after the failure of his new band The Flying Machine to coalesce (the lyric "sweet dreams and Flying Machines in pieces on the ground"; the reference is to the name of the band rather than a fatal plane crash, as was long rumored). In 2005, during an interview on NPR, Taylor explained to host Scott Simon that the song was written in three parts:[2]

  • The first part was indeed about Taylor's friend Suzanne, who died while Taylor was in London working on his first album after being signed to Apple Records. Friends at home, concerned that it might distract Taylor from his big break, kept the tragic news from him, and he only found out six months later.
  • The second part details Taylor's struggle to overcome drug addiction and depression.
  • The third part deals with coming to grips with fame and fortune, looking back at the road that got him there. It includes a reference to James Taylor and The Flying Machine, a band he briefly worked with before his big break with Paul McCartney, Peter Asher, and Apple Records.


  1. ^ White, Timothy, and Mitchell Glazer. Long Ago and Far Away: James Taylor — His Life and Music. New York: Omnibus Press, 5th edition 2011, p. 141.
  2. ^ White, Timothy (2001). Long Ago and Far Away: James Taylor — His Life and Music. London: Omnibus. p. 5. ISBN 0-7119-8803-X.