♫ Fire ♫

I have often said that for my music posts, I play only music that I like … which, relative to the universe of music, is admittedly a bit of a narrow scope.  Lately, Clive and a few others have been expanding my horizons and I’ve found a few new ones to like.  The song I am about to play is not one of them!  Our friend Clive asked for this one, and since he’s given me so many new musical experiences, I thought this was the least I could do.  I promised him before I listened to the song, but … a promise is a promise.  And I must admit that while I didn’t enjoy listening to the song, I had some fun with this post, with learning about the song and the artist!  This one’s for you, Clive …

Amazingly, this song reached #1 in the UK & Canada, and #2 in the U.S.  However, Arthur Brown, nee Arthur Wilton, was to be a one-hit wonder, for this was his only song to make its way onto the charts.  The song was written by Brown, Vincent Crane, Mike Finesilver and Peter Ker in 1968 and was released as a single and on the band’s debut album, called The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, which is also the name of the band.  According to SongFacts …

Growing up in England after World War II, Brown spent a lot of time around people whose lives were destroyed by the war, many of whom suffered from PTSD or other difficulties. When he started making music, instead of writing about girls, cars or relationships, he came up with a concept of an inner journey, developing a story about a man who faces his demons, heading into a figurative fire. Along this journey, he encounters the “God of Hellfire,” who shows up in “Prelude/Nightmare,” the first track on The Crazy World of Arthur Brown concept album. As the man enters the inferno, he finds himself deep in a psychedelic trip, which is described in the second track, “Fanfare/Fire Poem.”

As he falls into an abyss, the character returns, telling him: “I am the god of hellfire, and I bring you… Fire.” This marks the beginning of the song “Fire,” where our hero is taken to burn. While it works best within the concept of the album, it also serves as a standalone track, as the lyric on its own can be interpreted as a story about a man facing up to his past. Running 2:52 with the ear-catching spoken intro, it was a tasty, digestible slice of a much more complex work.

During live performances and in the black and white promotional television clip, Brown performed the song wearing a burning helmet. The helmet was improvised with a leather skull cap onto which was bolted a metal dish that held lighter fluid or petrol. As the cap was not insulated, the heat from the burning fuel quickly conducted through the fixing bolt to the top of Brown’s head, causing him considerable pain.  Apparently it sometimes caused pain for others, as well.  According to Jimmy Ryan, who backed him on bass as he recalls a gig at Wollman Skating Rink in Central Park …

“He simplified his attire with magician’s robes, war paint and a burning lyre headdress/helmet, and we were made to wear warlock cloaks and hoods, but we were forgiven the face paint. We began our show, and with a little difficulty, I managed to keep my floor length, flowing cloak from interfering with my bass strings.

Did I mention, Arthur liked to light his head on fire? As we cranked through our dark, distorted organ, pounding and pulsing bass-and-drums set Arthur, in a moment of screaming, psychotic reverie, forgot I was behind him, and hurled his lighter fluid-fueled, blazing headdress up and backwards, where it came to rest beneath my cloak. I was looking at (keyboardist) Paul Glanz at the time and only realized what had happened when I felt some red alert heat creeping up my bare legs and private parts (it was summer – no pants under my cloak). I began to spew four letter words in rapid fire, screaming and leaping around the stage, initially dragging the burning helmet with me under the cloak, unable to kick it free. Arthur thought I was ‘performing,’ absorbed in his insane, hellfire thing and was cheering me on. I thought I was about to meet the real God of Hellfire and go up in flames like a suicidal monk, right on the stage in front of 3,500 people! The stage crew was on it and came racing at me with a fire extinguisher, but Murphy’s Law of burning robes fortunately did not kick in. I managed to leap free before ignition/immolation, and they hosed the helmet instead of me. The irony was that Arthur kept going, unaware that anything was out of the ordinary, and the cheering crowd, pumping their two-fingered, metal head fists in the air, was treated to what they believed was me being possessed by demons, and doing the burning (literally) psycho hell dance.”

The SongFacts article is fascinating, if you care to read the entire thing!  And now, on to the song …

Fire

Arthur Brown

I am the god of hellfire! And I bring you
Fire, I’ll take you to burn
Fire, I’ll take you to learn
I’ll see you burn

You fought hard and you saved and earned
But all of it’s going to burn
And your mind, your tiny mind
You know you’ve really been so blind
Now’s your time, burn your mind
You’re falling far, too far behind
Oh no, oh no, oh no!
You’re gonna burn
Fire, to destroy all you’ve done
Fire, to end all you’ve become
I’ll feel you burn

You’ve been living like a little girl
In the middle of your little world
And your mind, your tiny mind
You know you’ve really been so blind
Now’s your time, burn your mind
You’re falling far, too far behind
Ooh

Fire, I’ll take you to burn
Fire, I’ll take you to learn
You’re gonna burn
You’re gonna burn
You’re gonna burn, burn, burn, burn
Burn, burn, burn, burn
Burn, burn, burn

Fire, I’ll take you to burn
Fire, I’ll take you to learn
Fire, I’ll take you to bed
Fire, I’ll take you, fire…

29 thoughts on “♫ Fire ♫

  1. Pingback: ♫ Overjoyed ♫ (Redux) | Filosofa's Word

  2. In Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute there are two ‘armored men’ who always used to have fire on their heads, at least here in Frankfurt, but the skull caps were well insulated and the singers’ heads were never set on fire.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As I intimated earlier when Clive first mentioned this song in your comments, I love this song. It is a theatrical masterpiece, and rock backs indulged in so few thestrics at the time. Arthur Brown had a vision, and it culminated in this song.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t even remember the song … I guess it wasn’t played on the radio stations I listened to! 😉 Yes, if this video is any indication, his shows were … nightmare-inducing! Thanks for the reblog, Ned!

      Like

  4. Thank you so much for playing this: I really didn’t think you would! It took me right back to my teen years, watching this on the BBC’s weekly pop music show, Top Of The Pops. My Mum’s reaction was pretty similar to yours! As they say, they don’t make them like that any more. He’s still going strong, and released a new album in June on his 80th birthday. Vincent Crane, the organist on this, went on to found the band Atomic Rooster, who had two hits here though I don’t think they did much over there. The songs were Tomorrow Night and Devil’s Answer, if you fancy broadening your musical horizons a little further. Even if everyone else hates this, I loved it!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I keep my promises. I’m so glad you enjoyed it … and yes, I can empathize with your mum, even though you and I are of approximately the same age (yeah, I know … you’re a few years younger, but catching up fast!)

      I can’t believe he has released yet another album! Wow … he doesn’t give up, does he? Nope, never heard of Atomic Rooster and I’m not going in search of tonight at this hour … perhaps tomorrow, er later today! Actually, not everybody hated “Fire”. Some didn’t comment at all, but most of the comments it got seem to be fairly positive! Rawgod liked it, and Larry …

      Liked by 1 person

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