Fire (Bruce Springsteen song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
"Fire"
SpringsteenFireSingleCover.jpg
Single by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
from the album Live/1975-85
B-side "Incident on 57th Street" (live)
Released January 1, 1987
Format 7-inch single
Recorded December 16, 1978
Venue Winterland, San Francisco, California
Genre Rock
Length 2:58
Label Columbia
Songwriter(s) Bruce Springsteen
Producer(s)
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band singles chronology
"War"
(1986)
"Fire"
(1987)
"Brilliant Disguise"
(1987)

"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. It was written after Springsteen saw Presley perform at a May 28, 1977 concert at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. Springsteen said, "I sent [Elvis] a demo of it but he died before it arrived."[1]

Springsteen completed a studio recording of "Fire", which was one of 52 tracks at least partially recorded which did not make the cut for his 1978 album Darkness on the Edge of Town as they were considered inconsistent with his thematic vision for the album. Springsteen's manager Jon Landau speculated Springsteen had a special concern that, if included on Darkness on the Edge of Town, "Fire" would be Columbia Records' single of choice despite not being representative of the album as a whole.[2]

Despite his disinterest in releasing his own version of "Fire" Springsteen was reportedly upset when the Pointer Sisters version of the song reached #2 in February 1979: at that point Springsteen's most successful single remained "Born to Run" which had reached #23 in 1975, and the Pointer Sisters were the second act to score a smash hit with a Springsteen cover, Manfred Mann's Earth Band having taken "Blinded by the Light" to #1 in 1977. Springsteen finally scored his own inaugural top 10 hit in 1980 with "Hungry Heart" which was his first single release subsequent to the Pointer Sisters' success with "Fire" (Springsteen had in fact written "Hungry Heart" for the Ramones but was persuaded by his manager/producer Jon Landau that the song was the ideal vehicle to break Springsteen as a major singles artist). [3][4]

Its omission from the Darkness on the Edge of Town album notwithstanding, "Fire" was included in the set list of the Darkness Tour and has been a Springsteen concert staple since then. On the 1986 Springsteen concert album Live/1975-85 "Fire" is represented by a December 16, 1978 performance at Winterland in San Francisco. Issued as a single, this version of "Fire" reached no. 46 on the Billboard Hot 100 and also charted in Ireland (no. 18), the UK (no. 54), and Australia (no. 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" was first released on The Promise box set and a video version appeared 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]

Cover of the Robert Gordon single

The first released recording of "Fire" was by neo-rockabilly singer Robert Gordon who had met Springsteen through E Street Band bass player Garry Tallent. They remained on friendly terms before Springsteen gave Gordon the song "Fire" after seeing 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." [5] Springsteen played piano on Gordon's recording of "Fire" which was released on Gordon's 1978 album Fresh Fish Special, recorded in December 1977 at Plaza Sound Studios in Manhattan with veteran rock 'n' roll producer Richard Gottehrer co-producing with Gordon.

Gordon's version received airplay on album-oriented rock radio stations and his version of "Fire" spent 14 weeks in the Record World 101-150 Singles chart rising as high as no. 106 in September 1978.[6]

The Pointer Sisters version[edit]

"Fire"
Firepointersisters.jpg
Single by The Pointer Sisters
from the album Energy
B-side "Love Is Like a Rolling Stone"
Released
  • October 2, 1978 (1978-10-02) (US)
  • March 9, 1979 (UK)
Format 7-inch single
Recorded 1978
Genre
Length 3:28
Label Planet
Songwriter(s) Bruce Springsteen
Producer(s) Richard Perry
The Pointer Sisters US singles chronology
"I Need a Man"
(1978)
"Fire"
(1978)
"Happiness"
(1979)
The Pointer Sisters UK singles chronology
"Everybody Is a Star"
(1979)
"Fire"
(1979)
"Happiness"
(1979)

History[edit]

The first single by the Pointer Sisters as the trio of Anita, June and Ruth Pointer, "Fire" was recorded for the group's November 1978 album release Energy with Anita Pointer on lead. Record producer Richard Perry had introduced the song to the Pointers by playing them a tape of Bruce Springsteen singing it[7], causing Anita Pointer to say: "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." [8] Knight Ridder music critic Christine Arnold cited "Fire" as "Energy 's [main] highlight......Springsteen has created a song that might well have been done by the Ronettes in the '60s, and the Pointers inherit and develop the legacy nicely. Lyrically it's a simple song, but one that captures the indecision of a woman who wants and does not want a man all at the same time. And when the Pointers sing [the lyric] fire it's enough to sear your turntable." [9]

Rising to no. 2 on the Hot 100 in Billboard magazine in February 1979 (behind Rod Stewart's "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?"), "Fire" was eventually 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 no. 14 and no.. 22, "Fire" also afforded the Pointer Sisters an international chart hit, reaching no. 1 in Belgium, the Netherlands, South Africa and New Zealand, and charting in Australia (no. 7), Austria (no. 10), Canada (no. 3), Germany (no. 35) and the UK (no. 34).

Anita Pointer recalled, "['Fire'] became [the Pointer Sisters'] 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."[8]

Billboard named the song no. 48 on their list of 100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time.[10]

Personnel[edit]

 • Anita Pointer – lead & backing vocals  • Rick Jaeger – drums  • Davey Johnstone – guitar
 • Ruth Pointer – backing vocals  • Lenny Castro – tambourine  • David Paich – organ, high piano
 • June Pointer – backing vocals  • Gerald Johnson – bass  • Jai Winding – acoustic piano

Chart performance[edit]

Other versions[edit]

Shakin' Stevens had a January 1979 UK single release with "Fire" serving as B-Side to his remake of "Endless Sleep". In the Netherlands, the single was issued with "Fire" as the A-side and formatted with a picture sleeve, this Dutch pressing being valued at £200+ in 1987.[22] 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".

Other artists covered "Fire" 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, with a beat that made it suitable for dancing Bachata. In 2002 Fleurine recorded her album Fire which featured the Springsteen composition as its title cut.[23]

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.[24][25]

Anna Calvi remade "Fire" in 2013. It served as a 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 Throbbing Python of Love, 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. ^ Carlin, Peter Ames, Bruce, 2013
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Beviglia, Jim (2014). Counting Down Bruce Springsteen: his 100 finest songs. Lanham MD: Rowman & Littlefied. p. 144. ISBN 978-1442230651.
  5. ^ Lakeland Ledger, June 12, 1978, p. 15.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2015). The Comparison Book. Menonomee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-89820-213-7.
  7. ^ Sioux Falls Argus-Leader 26 April 1979 "Pointers Pleased With New Direction" by Marshall Fine p.2C
  8. ^ a b Sisters, Pointer (February 18, 2014). "Bullseye with Jesse Thorn". Bullseye (Interview). Interviewed by Jesse Thorn. NPR. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  9. ^ The Evening Independent (St. Petersburg) 20 January 1979, p.11-D
  10. ^ "100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time: Critics' Picks". Billboard. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  11. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 10, 1979" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved 2017-12-31.
  12. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Pointer Sisters – Fire" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 2017-12-31.
  13. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 465.
  14. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 194.
  15. ^ David Kent's "Australian Chart Book 1970-1992" Archived March 5, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". Bac-lac.gc.ca. Archived from the original on 2016-10-06. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  17. ^ "Ultrtrop jaaroverzichten 1979 | VRT Top 30". Ultratop.be. Retrieved 2018-04-24.
  18. ^ "Top 100-Jaaroverzicht van 1979 | Nederlandse Top 40)". Top40.nl. Retrieved 2018-04-24.
  19. ^ "Top Selling Singles of 1979 | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Nztop40.co.nz. 1979-12-31. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  20. ^ "Top 20 Hit Singles of 1979 | South Africa's Rock Lists Website". Rock.co.za. Retrieved 2018-04-24.
  21. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1978/Top 100 Songs of 1978". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  22. ^ Marsh, Dave. Glory Days: Bruce Springsteen in the 1980s. Pantheon Books, 1987. ISBN 0-394-54668-7.
  23. ^ Heckman, Don (May 20, 2005) "Fleurine – Fire". Los Angeles Times.
  24. ^ "In a Heartbeat overview". Allmusic.
  25. ^ "In a Heartbeat Chuck Loeb". JazzTimes.

External links[edit]