This post is inspired by prospect of the Lindi Ortega concert which I’m going to, in Brighton, next week. Can’t make her London show because I’m seeing Massive Attack the same night, and I bought those tickets a long time ago…
“I’m on Fire” is a song that was on Bruce Springsteen’s 1984 album, “Born in the USA”. The one that made him massive rather than big. The one that, in the UK, attracted the yuppies and made it one of the coffee table albums of that year. As a huge Bruce fan I reacted against that and didn’t really give the album a proper chance until much later. I now acknowledge its brilliance and that “I’m on Fire” is one of the great songs. A song about a burning passion, that is driving like a freight train through the subject’s head. A fire that is ready to burst out and ignite everything. But still repressed, latent. A burning, but unfulfilled desire.
Lindi Ortega and The Staves – two of my favourites as any reader of this blog will know -have covered the song. Lindi brings out the angst of that unfulfilled desire. The Staves bring out the beautiful melancholy. And then Bruce gives you the original take – a bit of 80s shininess in the production, rectified in live performance since then, but still imbued with that unfulfilled passion, and a hint of jealousy.
So here are videos of each rendition. I love them all. Different, except that they are all reaching out for that undefinable fulfilment, which expresses itself in melancholy, sometimes anger, self-pity, frustration. But the music has in it the seeds of the redemption, and at the very least, the consolation.
Enjoy the three versions if you have time.