How do you feel when you think of the word fire in a song? I think it directly unearths the feelings inside us without control. The fire, just like the music itself is explosive, both in good and bad ways.
In any music genre, lyrics using fire applied to music always resulted in an intense relationship. Fire is inviting, but also scary, so it has been the inspiration for many romantic, epic, also aggressive, or even bizarre songs.
Let’s take a look at the songs of some best-selling artists who sang about the fire, and see how it was interpreted from the 60s up to today!
1. Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash (1963)
Let’s begin with an amazing early 60s classic from J.Cash. Ring of Fire according to Elizabethan poetry is a metaphor for falling in love.
That’s obvious when we listen as well, but J.Cash’s wife also claimed that the name in fact is about a certain female body part. The Mexican brass line heard was a wish of J.Cash right after he saw it in his dream. It is indeed a great way to express fire and love!
2. Lake of Fire – Meat Puppets (1984)
This passive-aggressive song by one of the most influential bands of grunge depicts a “lake of fire” as a place to go for “bad folks”. All surrounded by catchy guitar hooks, you can hear the flames going up and down.
It isn’t hard to guess that Lake of Fire is another word for hell, yet C.Kirkwood on the vocals still asks us is really a place bad people will go or not.
3. I See Fire – Ed Sheeran (2013)
Composed as a soundtrack for the Hobbit movie, that song naturally carries the sweetness of a folk tune with parts using fiddles with a soft vocal line on top of it.
Fire here is the evil itself, mentioned many times but always along with the concept of brotherhood. It has to be faced all together, just as they die and live all together.
4. Fire – The Jimi Hendrix (1967)
Listen to the short intro of that classic and you will also agree that the word fire can only be expressed this clearly. With epic guitar riffs, an incredible burning solo, and vocals, fire is coming out of my ears each time I listen to that tune.
In reality, you don’t even need lyrics to associate that song with fire, to hear them is great enough!
5. Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire – Joni Mitchell (1972)
This sweet tune from the fifth studio album of the legendary Canadian singer-songwriter portrays a rather different type of fire.
The calm atmosphere of the song only includes short brass motifs with back vocals. It is actually written for a lover struggling with drug addiction. Fire here is the feeling calling him despite his attempts to get away from it.
6. Fire Meet Gasoline – Sia (2014)
One of the best-selling artists of 2014, another hit of Sia was the Fire Meet Gasoline. The song that has already become a pop classic is based on the strong desire of a woman.
She is fire and the man is gasoline, so they must get together and burn to cherish their love. A rather on your face’’ take on using the word fire considering other songs.
7. Fire and Rain – James Taylor (1970)
A folk classic and probably the first tune for some coming into mind among the songs about fire. In this song, we hear a prayer of a man, and fire here symbolizes the hard times he’s endured.
Everything though expressed in a dreamy calm scene. Just like some other works of J.Taylor, there is the taste of a coming of age song in that one as well.
8. Fire Burns – Nicki Minaj (2012)
Maybe the most aggressive song here uses the word fire if you take a close look at the lyrics. On the other hand, the music is built upon a very calm, almost relaxing material that comes and goes.
As she curses on her lover and wishes him to be burned by his fire, sweet melodic lines float. In that sense, that one is a positively bizarre song indeed!
9. Fire Your Guns – AC/DC (1990)
Yet another hard rock anthem by AC/DC, this magnifying song puts fire on a whole different zone. The lover depicted as ‘’wild beast’’ is desired so badly that we hear that he challenges her to fire her guns and show her attitude and everything she’s got.
Symbolizing fire with such struggle is a great fit, but this defiant rock song reaches that level also thanks to its epic guitar riffs.
10. Fire Burning Down Everything – Bob Marley and The Wailers (2012)
A little hidden jam stayed non-released until 2012, just another great tune by B.Marley. As you’d expected, heavy political content makes the backbone of the song.
The moving character of the music clashes with the criticism of the system, where the fire is depicted as humanity crushing everything beautiful.
11. Who By Fire – Leonard Cohen (1974)
Cohen’s poetry never stops being impressive as it comes and this song is also one of them where you literally listen to a poem. Fire here is a thing among many, symbolizing a mysterious persona just as the ‘’who by sunshine’’ or ‘’who in solitude’’.
The song is simply a quest on an unanswered question, and with an odd string outro, I guess the question hangs in the air as the song ends.
12. Sex on Fire – Kings of Leon (2008)
This moving Indie Rock tune starts with a strong beat and is rather an expression of despair.
As the vocal shouts ‘’Your sex is on fire’’, we understand that his love is out of reach now, and the fire is the thing that consumed her. So again, fire is something hard to control and might turn into something destructive.
13. The Roof is on Fire – Rock Master Scott & the Dynamic Three (1985)
Well, this time it is the roof on fire. That hip-hop classic is known mostly for its opening sampled by The Chemical Brothers on their hit song ‘’Hey Girls Hey Boys’’.
The whole atmosphere is based on a fun mood, a massive invitation to a grand retro party feeling.
The Roof is on Fire then means you can’t stand still, you won’t anyways with that great beat.
14. Fight Fire with Fire – Metallica (1984)
The second studio album of a legendary heavy metal band, Fight Fire with Fire is a reminder against Apocalypse. Starting with a slow nostalgic early Metallica guitar intro, the song soon gets much more chaotic and starts giving warnings.
Fire can be considered as any evil behavior, anything one endured and stayed silent. Metallica says you got to react!
15. I’m on Fire – Bruce Springsteen (1984)
One of the biggest hits of the 80s, Springsteen’s ‘’I’m on Fire’’ gives the clearest usage of the word, both with its lyrics and the famous video clip.
A mechanic gets a visit from a rare lady customer, and well, he is on fire. Although the lyrics are filled with expressions of a strong desire, the music, and vocals are soft and mellow.
16. The Wheel’s on Fire – Bob Dylan & The Band (1967)
Let’s leave the 80s and go further back again. A joint project of Dylan and R.Danko, Wheel’s on Fire is a fantastic tune combined with immense poetry.
Going on a road feeling exists both in the music and lyrics, and the wheel is surely a reference to one’s life. The fire here is almost used mystically as Sufi philosophers did, getting burned is a symbol to reach another mental level.
17. Great Balls of Fire – Jerry Lee Lewis (1958)
Well, why not include a Rock and Roll classic that mentions fire? The song has a relation with fire much similar to the one we’ve seen on the B.Springsteen.
A guy is shocked and falls in love, so the ‘’great balls of fire’’ come up to him. This cool song for its time cleverly uses the burning energy of Rock and Roll combined with the fire.
18. Home is Fire – Death Cab for Cutie (2011)
The word fire can make a good setting for a coming of age song, as it also symbolizes something consumed already. This is what happens in that song, home is on fire because it is a ‘’burning reminder’’.
In other words, nothing will be the same as it was before. A nice fast beat mixed with strong vocals tells us that simply that adjusting to a change will be hard.
19. Just Like Fire – P!nk (2016)
Here again, we got a different metaphor for the fire skipped until here. Fire all in all is also a light source, so in that song P!nk challenges the world with the wishes of being fired itself.
There is indeed a circus-like atmosphere in the video clip. This was empowered also in lyrics as wire, magic, and color charade are the words chosen.
20. Girl on Fire – Alicia Keys (2012)
Already a pop classic, Girl on Fire is a highly expressive song that puts all its emphasis musically and lyrically on the phrase fire. The fire is seen here both with its cons and pros, the girl walks on fire but she is also on fire.
She has the desire, she can face it all, she’s ready. The ascending vocal line of Keys on the word ‘’Fire’’ is also a word painting that flames the song up each time it appears.
21. Sleep Now in the Fire – Rage Against the Machine (1999)
One of the hits of the late 90s, this song directly starts with catchy guitar hooks and comes in flames. Sleeping in fire seems to me as a metaphor for being cautious, and ready for evil surrounding us.
We need to learn to sleep on fire so that we can move on. The word fire gets more and more intense with the brutal vocals, so that idea is pushed even more.
22. Put out the Fire – Queen (1982)
Getting back to the 80s with an amazing band never disappoints us. The anthem-like catchy melody is pumping bravery with its lyrics.
Fire here is the place where we need to throw our fears, misbeliefs, and wrong deeds. Musically, the song gives a mixed sweet feeling of both 70s guitar riffs and 80s beats.
23. Firestarter – Prodigy (1996)
Only a few bands can bring qualities of metal and techno, and Firestarter is one of those songs Prodigy does it again. Firestarter is the manifestation of a troublemaker intensely expressing himself.
Not a direct reference to the word fire itself, but musically you can not rest a minute, just as the firestarter already begins to create a circle of fire around you.
24. Firebomb – Rihanna (2009)
Microwaves, gasoline, bombs, and any form of fire are included in the lyrics of that lesser-known song by Rihanna. Fire is the danger itself, and yet again we see a lover singing a musically romantic tune, wishing to burn together with her lover.
The song has the feeling of the early 2000s, and the guitar riff in the intro prepares us for a scene in flames very well.
25. Light My Fire – The Doors (1967)
There can not be a list of songs on fire without that ever-burning torch of Rock music. I believe the real fire of the song starts with the unexpected long solo section.
Fire gets bigger as it comes with the organ solo and tampers down slowly with the guitar, solidifying the irrefutable invitation of the J.Morrison. Fire here transforms into all passions and desires, and it is impossible to stay away from it.
Final Thoughts on Songs About Fire
Here we arrived at the end of our list! I am just thinking of how many different meanings artists put on one single word only among those 25 songs.
The word fire seems to unconsciously affect us a lot, just as watching it in flames a night does the same. As I’ve mentioned before, fire is magic, just like music.
We can not define what it does to us exactly. When music attempts to become fire itself though, the result is always mind-blowing. I hope you’ve enjoyed it, see you on other lists!