Elvis Presley stands as a monumental figure in the annals of rock music. Yet, among his collection of classic hits, there lies a track penned by none other than Bruce Springsteen. In his memoir, Springsteen delves deep into the transformative musical era when he crafted a song with the legendary “Hound Dog” vocalist in mind, hinting at a phase when Presley might’ve been adrift.
Bruce Springsteen’s song “Fire” was originally envisioned for Elvis Presley
In the memoir “Born to Run” released in 2016, Springsteen sheds light on the 1977 music scene, marking the year when the iconic “Heartbreak Hotel” singer passed away. Springsteen recalled, “There was a noticeable shift from the conventional; the punk movement was in full force, introducing groundbreaking music from the UK. Bands like The Sex Pistols, The Clash, and Elvis Costello were reshaping the boundaries of pop music during that year.”
He observed, “It was a period characterized by profound endings and beginnings. With Elvis gone, his memory resonated profoundly in our work. ‘Fire’ was a tribute, written with him in mind.” As per reports from American Songwriter, although a demo of the song was dispatched to Elvis, it sadly reached him posthumously.
By 1977, Springsteen sensed an imminent musical transition
To Springsteen, 1977 was the brink of a musical epoch. “Globally, young and fervent musicians sought to challenge or perhaps even dismantle the existing musical narratives, searching for a fresh narrative,” he elucidated. Springsteen’s words suggest that some musical titans might have lost their essence, though it’s ambiguous whether he categorized Elvis among them.
He elaborated, “The bond between the artist and the audience had become overly conceptual. Implicit commitments had been established and shattered. It was ripe for a paradigm shift or perhaps even anarchy. The music realm was in dire need of radical stimuli and reactions.” Springsteen identified profoundly with the avant-garde artists of that era.
Bruce Springsteen’s “Fire” soared in popularity with The Pointer Sisters’ rendition.
The Pointer Sisters’ interpretation of “Fire” skyrocketed in the charts, reaching the No. 2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100, making it their most successful track. Their album, “Energy,” which featured “Fire,” also garnered significant acclaim.
Interestingly, of all Springsteen’s musical contributions, “Fire” emerged as a perennial favorite. Apart from The Pointer Sisters’ acclaimed version, the song witnessed covers by renowned artists like Robert Gordon, Robin Williams, Chuck Loeb, and Shakin’ Stevens. Given its origins rooted in paying homage to Elvis, it’s fitting that artists reminiscent of the 1950s, like Stevens, would resonate with the track.
While the world was deprived of Elvis’s rendition of “Fire,” imagining what could’ve been a stellar comeback, having Springsteen himself bring the song to life is a close second!