Fire and Rain

Fire and Rain

Infobox Single
Name = Fire and Rain
Cover size =
Caption =
Artist = James Taylor
from Album = Sweet Baby James
A-side =
B-side = "Anywhere Like Heaven"
Released = February 1970
Format =
Recorded =
Genre = Rock
Length = 3:20
Label = Warner Bros.
Writer = James Taylor
Producer = Peter Asher
Certification =
Chart position =
Last single =
This single =
Next single =
Misc =
:For|the TV movie about the crash of Delta Air Lines Flight 191|Fire and Rain (movie)

"Fire and Rain" is a song written and performed by James Taylor. The signature single on his second album, "Sweet Baby James", the song brought Taylor widespread attention. The album was released in December 1969, with the song being released as a single the following February. "Fire and Rain" quickly rose to number three on the Billboard magazine charts.

Moody, introspective, and laying bare deep emotional sensitivity, "Fire and Rain" became something of a prototype for the singer-songwriter genre that would boom in the few years following its release. Its apocalyptic imagery proved endlessly provocative to would-be interpreters. The sparse arrangement, centered around Taylor's ringing acoustic guitar figures, also became a signature sound for Taylor and was influential among other performers.

"Fire and Rain" is in the 227th position on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

Origin of the song

Taylor has related different versions of what the song is about. In a BBC interview he stated that the song chronicled his experiences in mental institutions and the suicide of a friend. More recently, on the VH1 series "Story Tellers", Taylor said that the song was, indeed, about Suzanne Schnerr, a friend of his who died suddenly while he was away from home. According to that account, he had been in a deep depression after the failure of his new band "Flying Machine" to coalesce (the lyric includes a reference to "sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground"; the reference is to the name of the band rather than a fatal plane crash, as was long rumored). As he was wondering what to do with himself, he received word of Schnerr's death, and the song explains that her death was a check for his own worries, a way of realizing the transience of life and his need to get back to his old friends. In other interviews Taylor has also indicated that a battle with drug addiction figured into the song.

In 2005, Taylor laid the rumors to rest during an interview on NPR. He explained to host Scott Simon that the song was written in three parts: [citation |title=James Taylor: James Taylor, His Life and Music |last=White |first= Timothy |year=2001 |page=5 |isbn= 071198803X ]

*The first part was indeed about Taylor's friend Suzanne, who died while Taylor was in London working on his first album after being signed to Apple Records. Friends at home, concerned that it may have distracted Taylor from his big break, kept the tragic news from him, and it was only some time later that Taylor found out.

*The second part details Taylor's struggle to overcome drug addiction and depression.

*The third part deals with coming to grips with fame and fortune, looking back at the road that got him there. It includes a reference to James Taylor and The Flying Machine, a band he briefly worked with before his big break with Paul McCartney, Peter Asher and Apple Records.

Rumors about the origin

According to some sources, James Taylor got his inspiration from an earlier tragic incident. Snopes.com [cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Fire and Rain
work =
publisher = Snopes.com
date = 2006-08-06
url = http://www.snopes.com/music/songs/firerain.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2008-09-01
] reports and debunks the myth that "Fire and Rain" was written after Taylor's girlfriend, whom he was planning to marry, died in a plane crash ("Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground.") The mythical story was as follows::Taylor was booked to play a gig across the country on his birthday and, secretly, his friends bought plane and concert tickets for his fiance Suzanne so she could meet him there as a surprise. However, the plane crashed shortly after takeoff after complications due to heavy rain, killing many aboard, including Suzanne. Upon receiving the news, Taylor immediately wrote "Fire and Rain" in mourning ("Just yesterday morning, they let me know you were gone. / Suzanne the plans they made put an end to you. / Walked out this morning, and I wrote down this song./ I just can't remember who to send it to.")

The title "Fire and Rain" is said to refer to the fiery crash in the rain. However, Taylor has openly denied these allegations and explained the true inspiration behind the song.

"Fire and Rain" in popular culture

*Taylor performed "Fire and Rain" on "The Simpsons" episode "Deep Space Homer"; he awkwardly replaced the lyric "In pieces on the ground" with "Flying safely through the air" since Homer and the shuttle crew were in danger of burning up in re-entry.
*The song is featured prominently as a favorite of the family in the movie "Running on Empty".
*A book from the webcomic "Sluggy Freelance" is named after the song.
*The song "Fire and Rain" is featured in the movie "Remember the Titans".
*The song is played in the final scene of the episode in Dawson's Creek where Mitch (Dawson's dad) is buried.
*The Bacon Brothers refer to the song, in their song, "Guess Again", from the album "FoRoSoCo". The song details the singer's delusions of grandeur, while he makes numerous outrageous claims. "(You know I'm not afraid of pain, and did you know that I wrote "Fire and Rain...)"

Cover versions

Many artists have recorded cover versions of "Fire and Rain" in a number of genres. A partial list includes:

* Country icon Willie Nelson's 1975 cover reached the top thirty on the U.S. country singles charts.
* Trumpeter Herb Alpert on his album "Lost Treasures".
* Hard rock band Badlands on their album "Voodoo Highway".
* Blood, Sweat & Tears on their album "Blood, Sweat & Tears 3".
* Actress and singer Betty Buckley on her album "Heart to Heart".
* Cher on her album "Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves".
* Bobby Darin on his album "Live! At the Desert Inn".
* Country music singer Skeeter Davis on her album "Love Takes a Lot of My Time".
* John Denver on his album "Poems, Prayers, and Promises".
* Sheena Easton on her album "The Lover in Me".
* Jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson on his eponymous album "Maynard Ferguson".
* Reggae artists The Gaylads on their album "Fire and Rain".
* Folk singer Richie Havens on his album "The Great Blind Degree".
* Marcia Hines on her 2001 alburm "Diva".
* The Isley Brothers on their album "Givin' It Back".
* Jazz singer Al Jarreau on his album "Glow".
* Jazz pianist Keith Jarrett on his album "Restoration Ruin".
* Ex-Monkee Davy Jones on his album "Just for the Record, Vol. 2".
* Country and western singer Sammy Kershaw on his album "Coverin' the Hits".
* Jazz flautist Hubert Laws on his album "Afro-Classic".
* Punk music band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes on their album "Have a Ball".
* Nana Mouskouri on her album "Nana's Book of Songs".
* Anne Murray on her album "Snowbird".
* Country and western singer Willie Nelson on his album "Willie Nelson & Family".
* Tony Orlando on his album "The Casablanca Years".
* Saxophonist Boots Randolph on his album "Boots With Brass".
* Soul, jazz and blues singer Lou Rawls on his album "A Man of Value".
* Cliff Richard on his album "Help It Along".
* Johnny Rivers on his album "Home Grown".
* Country and western singer Sammi Smith on her album "Lonesome".
* Country and western singer Billie Jo Spears on the compilation album "Country Ladies and Gentlemen".
* R. Dean Taylor on his album "I Think, Therefore I Am".
* Folk singer Linda Thompson on her album "Give Me a Sad Song".
* Jazz guitarist Phil Upchurch on his album "Darkness, Darkness".
* Progressive rock keyboard player Rick Wakeman on his album "Piano Vibrations".
* Roger Whittaker on his album "Fire and Rain".
* Pop singer Andy Williams on his album "Love Story".
* Rhythm and blues and soul singer Bobby Womack on his album "Communication".
* Pop singer Dido on the album "" (2007).
* Pop singer Jonatha Brooke on the album "Back in the Circus".

References


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