Fire – The Pointer Sisters (American Bandstand Version)
This smoldering song was written by Bruce Springsteen, who at the time was embroiled in litigation with his former manager, which kept him from recording his own songs. His friend Robert Gordon was the first to record it, releasing it on his 1978 album Fresh Fish Special. The song became a hit when the Pointer Sisters recorded it later in 1978 at the suggestion of their producer Richard Perry, their version hitting #2 in the US.
Springsteen wrote this for Elvis Presley, his idol growing up. He sent Elvis a demo of it in 1977, but Presley died soon after. The song would have fit well for Elvis, as it’s about a passionate lust a couple has for each other.
Springsteen sometimes writes from the perspective of a man burning with desire, which can come off a bit predatory. In this song, the girl is saying no, but he’s not accepting that answer because her kiss tells a different story. When sung from the girl’s point of view, these concerns are allayed – The Pointer Sisters make it clear they are welcoming these advances:
My words say split, but my words they lie ‘Cause when we kiss, ooooh, fire
Another Springsteen song with a similar theme is “Because The Night,” which became a big hit for Patti Smith.
While many people who heard this song knew it had hit potential, Springsteen did not release it until 1986, as he was more concerned with the continuity of his albums than making hit records. Springsteen’s version was included on his boxed set, Live 1975-1985. It was released as a single when the set came out, reaching #46 in the US.
Springsteen considered using this on his albums Darkness On The Edge Of Town (1978) and The River (1980), but decided it did not fit the mood of either album.
Radio stations sometimes inserted their station name into the Pointer Sisters version of this song after the line, “You turn on the radio.” For example:
I’m riding in your car You turn on the radio…
98.3, The Pulse!
You’re pulling me close…
The Pointer Sisters scored with upbeat, danceable songs like “I’m So Excited” and “Jump (For My Love),” but their biggest hits were “Fire” and another slow-burning, lusty song: “Slow Hand.” That one was written by John Bettis and Michael Clark, and became a country hit for Conway Twitty after The Pointer Sisters released their version.