Fire (Bruce Springsteen song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other songs of this name, see Fire (song).
Single by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
from the album Live/1975-85
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band singles chronology
"Brilliant Disguise"
Single by Robert Gordon with Link Wray
from the album Fresh Fish Special

"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 perform at a May 28, 1977 concert at the Spectrum in Philadelphia: Springsteen would say "I sent [Elvis] a demo of it but he died 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 1978 album Darkness on the Edge of Town: these tracks were omitted on the grounds of inconsistency with Springsteen's thematic vision for that album. Springsteen's manager Jon Landau has 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 being non-representative of the overall album.[2]

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. 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), 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" 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]

The first released recording of "Fire" was by neo-rockabilly singer Robert Gordon who had met Bruce Springsteen through E Street Band bass player Gary Tallent with Gordon and Springsteen having subsequently been on friendly terms for some time 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." [3] 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.

Gordon's version received some airplay on album-oriented rock radio stations but the single reached no higher than No. 106 in Record World and didn't chart at all in Billboard or Cash Box.[4] Springsteen was reportedly upset when the Pointer Sisters version of "Fire" became a hit, outshining Gordon's version.[5]

The Pointer Sisters version[edit]

Single by The Pointer Sisters
from the album Energy
B-side "Love Is Like a Rolling Stone"
Released 2 October 1978 (US)
9 March 1979 (UK)
Format 7" single
Recorded 1 January 1978
Genre RockR&B
Length 3:28
Label Planet
Writer(s) Bruce Springsteen
Producer(s) Richard Perry
The Pointer Sisters US singles chronology
"I Need a Man"
The Pointer Sisters UK singles chronology
"Everybody Is a Star"

The inaugural 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. The lead vocal on the track was by Anita Pointer: on hearing the song's demo, which featured a deep Elvis Presley-type vocal, Anita Pointer 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." [6] Knight Ridder music critic Christine Arnold cited "Fire" as Energy 's [main] highlight": Arnold - "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." [7]

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" 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 No. 14 and No. 22, "Fire" would also afford 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 would recall: "['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."[6]

Chart performance[edit]

Preceded by
"Chiquitita" by ABBA
Dutch Top 40 number-one single
10 March 10 1979 - 31 March 1979
"Lay Your Love on Me"
by Racey
Preceded by
"Y.M.C.A." by Village People
New Zealand RIANZ Top 40
number one single
11 March 1979
Succeeded by "Tragedy"
by Bee Gees
Preceded by
"Pop Muzik" by M
Springbok Radio (South Africa) chart
number one single
"Sometimes When We Touch"
by Dan Hill

Other notable cover 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 A-side and formatted with a picture sleeve, this Dutch pressing being now valued at £200+. [14] 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 "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. This particular version has a beat that makes it suitable for dancing Bachata. In 2002 Fleurine recorded her album Fire which featured the Springsteen composition as its title cut.[15]

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.[16][17]

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 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".


  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. ^ Lakeland Ledger June 12, 1978 p. 15
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2015). The Comparison Book. Menonomee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-89820-213-7. 
  5. ^ 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
  6. ^ a b Sisters, Pointer (February 18, 2014). "Bullseye with Jesse Thorn". Bullseye (Interview). Interview with Jesse Thorn. NPR. 
  7. ^ The Evening Independent (St Petersburg) 20 January 1979 p.11-D
  8. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 465. 
  9. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 194. 
  10. ^ David Kent's "Australian Chart Book 1970-1992" Archived March 5, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". Archived from the original on 2016-10-06. Retrieved 2016-10-13. 
  12. ^ "Top Selling Singles of 1979 | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". 1979-12-31. Retrieved 2016-10-13. 
  13. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1978/Top 100 Songs of 1978". Retrieved 2016-10-13. 
  14. ^ Marsh, Dave. Glory Days: Bruce Springsteen in the 1980s. Pantheon Books, 1987. ISBN 0-394-54668-7.
  15. ^ Heckman, Don (May 20, 2005) "Fleurine – Fire". Los Angeles Times.
  16. ^ "In a Heartbeat overview". Allmusic. 
  17. ^ "In a Heartbeat Chuck Loeb". JazzTimes. 

External links[edit]