Friday, June 13, 2014

Song Spotlight - "I'm on Fire"

Key Video

For this song, I eschewed the live performances in favor of the official music video. I’ve always wanted a reason to highlight this video, which in some ways is my favorite Bruce Springsteen music video. As far as I know, it’s the only video of his that doesn’t contain any instruments or lip-synching. Instead we see Bruce A-C-T-I-N-G! With the exception of his on-stage theatrics and storytelling, this is likely the closest we’ll ever get to see Bruce Springsteen act. Yes, he has a cameo in High Fidelity, but it’s more of a direct address. This video features facial expressions that are meant to convey inner emotions. In the end, he’s not doing that much. But for what it’s worth, I think he’s pretty good in it. It’s also worth noting that celebrated indie filmmaker John Sayles directs the video. He shoots it almost like a David Lynch movie, with mysterious lighting and shadowy set design that perfectly complement the song’s uneasy feel.

Key Lyrics

“Hey little girl is your daddy home
Did he go away and leave you all alone
I got a bad desire
I'm on fire”

There are very few lyrics in this song, but each one is incredibly powerful and instantly memorable. But if you have to isolate one set of lyrics, it’s hard not to go with this bold opening. The song grabs you by the throat and lets its intentions known with no ambiguity. I remember one time asking my Mom what she thought was the most memorable Springsteen song. She quickly responded, “I’m on Fire”. I was surprised to hear this and when I asked her why, she referenced the song’s fierce sexuality. That was quickly the end of that conversation. But I can see what she means.


This is one of Bruce’s most beautiful sounding songs, and simultaneously also one of his creepiest. It sounds so haunting, like the feverish dream the narrator references. It’s the kind of song that appears deceptively simple on the surface, but burrows into your psyche and never leaves. I have to side with my Mom, this is one of his most memorable songs.

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