Wednesday, 31 July 2013

"I'm on Fire" burned into memory

Tonight I went to a backyard concert put on by a friend of mine. There really is nothing like an acoustic guitar and singing by the fire.

He is an amazing musician, and one of the things he did was play "I'm on Fire" by the fire – a first for me. His partner accidentally lit the paper soaked in gasoline and she was almost on fire.

The song, my favourite ballad of Bruce Springsteen's, brought back many memories for me.

Born in the USA
"I'm on Fire" was one of the seven singles from Springsteen's monster 1984 album "Born in the USA". Singles from the album sat on the Hot 100 charts for two years. The seven singles tied a record for most singles off one album, with Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation 1814". Before that, he had one Top 10 hit, "Hungry Heart" in 1980, and would only have two more Top 10 singles in his career. So seven of his 10 Top 10 hits came from the same album. The songs on "Born in the USA" were all different, but showed the versatility of The Boss and his "E" Street Band, and illustrated how great a storyteller he was.

"Dancing in the Dark" was the first release and Springsteen's biggest hit to that point, which peaked at number two on the Billboard Top 100. The single propelled the album to the top spot where it stayed for four weeks. The video featured a young Courtney Cox being pulled onto the stage during a concert scene. He also won an American Music Award and a Grammy for the song.

The cover for "Born in the USA"
by Bruce Springsteen
Next came "Cover Me", which was on the radio before I really started listening to music, so I only heard it a handful of times. Still, it peaked at number seven.

The third single was the title track "Born in the USA" which, when I first heard it, sounded like Springsteen just screaming into the microphone. Then I actually listened to the lyrics and realized what he was trying to say about war and the American attitude towards it.

"Glory Days" was the fifth single, peaking at number number five. It had this incredible video, of a man re-living his glory days. It started with him pitching balls on a deserted baseball diamond, a powerful image.

There was "I'm Goin' Down" which made it to number nine, and "My Hometown", another ballad that told another great story. The message hit close to home for anyone who lived in a small town. It peaked at number six.

Which brings us to… "I'm on Fire".

Powerful ballad
"I'm on Fire" is a relatively short song, but really struck a chord with me. I love the beat, the driving rhythm, and the video tells a great story. It was the first video that was not a performance clip. In fact it was directed by John Sayles, who directed motion pictures such as "Clan of the Cave Bear", "Eight Men Out", "City of Hope", and "Lone Star" among others.

It was the fourth single off "Born in the USA" and peaked on the Billboard Top 100 at number six.

When I was working in a bar in university, every Thursday night before the crowd came in, the deejay played "I'm on Fire" just for me. I stood in the middle of the dance floor, mirror ball shimmering over me, and sang this song at the top of my lungs, drowned out by The Boss himself.

It is still one of my favourite songs of all time.

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