Fire Lake

Album: Against the Wind (1980)
Charted: 6
  • For years, Seger never publicly commented on the actual place this song was written about. There were theories that it is symbolic of the biblical Lake of Fire, and it was noted there is an actual Fire Lake in Iron County, Michigan (the state where Seger grew up), as well.

    Seger eventually stated that it is about a lake in Michigan called Silver Lake. He told Toledo Free Press in March 2011: "It was written about Silver Lake in Dexter, about being in the Pinckney-Hell-Dexter area."
  • His good friends Don Henley, Glenn Frey and Timothy B. Schmit of the Eagles sang backup for Seger on this song. A year earlier, Seger came up with the chorus to the Eagles hit "Heartache Tonight."
  • Seger has said that this lyric is one of his favorites. As a song about taking risks, Seger says this song broke away from his past efforts in style and content, which proved serendipitous.
  • This song was written 7 years before its inclusion on the Against the Wind album. It was originally intended for Beautiful Loser, but was left off that album as it had a different sound and didn't quite mesh with the rest of the cuts - and that is also specifically why it was chosen as the first single off Against the Wind.
  • This is one of the songs Seger recorded in Alabama at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, where the studio owners, Barry Beckett (keyboards), Roger Hawkins (drums), David Hood (bass), and Jimmy Johnson (guitar), backed him up. Seger recorded some of his most memorable songs at MSSS, including his hit "Old Time Rock And Roll." Many Soul artists recorded at the studio in the '60s and '70s, but the disco era slowed this business considerably. Seger helped keep the studio in business, as he gave them a production credit on his songs that was quite profitable. David Hood explained in our interview: "Everything we recorded with Bob Seger, we get a production royalty on. And as it turns out, we recorded 'Fire Lake,' and 'Old Time Rock and Roll,' and 'Mainstreet,' just a whole bunch of things with them. And so that became a very lucrative thing. We don't even have a real contract on that, but he's always paid us for the records that we played on, we were co-producers on, as well. And that's what I think about Bob Seger. He's a very honest man. He and Punch Andrews are honest people who stick to their word. That's rare in the music business."
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 7

  • Bob from (just Another) Dead Coal Town, WvI see it as kind of a puzzle a little, as different things are pieced together. But one that I always think on is the "bronzed beauties" section, like when a musician from the midwest, anywhere else really, suddenly finding himself on the beaches in LA with those women "that will lay you down so fast". Just my take there.
  • Kathy from Connecticut I see that many are reading very deep meaning into the song. But, I never thought it was any mystery. On its face it’s about a man having a midlife crisis who gets on his motorcycle and runs off to the place known for beautiful young women where a man can get lucky easily. The reference to being afraid to cut the cake I believe refers to his struggles with getting older. No one wants to tell aunt Sarah where he’s gone because she’ll likely figure out what he’s up to given the reputation of Fire Lake. This place appears to be every man’s version of heaven on earth. The reference to the girls “laying you down so fast” I think is self-explanatory. The man looking up as he’s laying there with said girls and saying “ oh Lord am I really here at last“ makes me think that he feels like he’s died and gone to heaven. LOL
    Woven through the whole song is the theme of taking a risk as others have stated. In this case the man’s risk could be losing his family if he’s running off to fool around with other women.
  • Joe from PittsburghJoe’s run off to fire lake. He died. Either suicide or a motorcycle accident. That’s what they are going to tell Aunt Sara. “Oh lord! Are we really here at last”? That means they have arrived in Valhalla.
  • Mike Lombardi from Northeast, UsI struggled to understand the meaning of Fire Lake for a long time but came to my own conclusion. Now I am glad to know from our man Mr. Bob Seger, a true legend in rock and roll history version. Hats off to Bob Seger

    Hmm! I am somewhat disappointed to hear my interpretation of Fire Lake’s lyrics is wrong. But I am very happy knowing the true meaning of the song and what Fire Lake refers to. If you like to follow along to see where my understanding arose please feel free to shoot me a line so I can see if you could also understand how I came to my faulty interpretation.

    Line 2. Who's gonna make that first mistake. Knowing the song as well as I do one might consider ‘who’ might this person be. Is it Joe? Or anyone in gypsy leather (GL)? If so; which one? Might you guess Uncle Joe since he runs off to Fire Lake at the end of the song alone?

    Line 5. Who wants to break the news about Uncle Joe. This line jumps right to a specific person who I assume is in GL. I ask what news. And is that news good or bad news? For me (FM) from Bob’s vocals in the recorded and live versions that I have heard, the news is not good.

    Lines 6 + 7. You remember Uncle Joe +7. He was the one afraid to cut the cake. These two lines tell me Joe is not known as risk taker. Joe appears to have trouble with his fears involved with his group of brave boys and possibly the girls too. What is Joe afraid of?

    Line 8. Who wants to tell poor Aunt Sarah This is the critical point in my interpretation. I do not sense at this time my bad news is Joe's infidelity or that she doesn't know Joe went riding off with his GL riders. What is more, motorcycle riders that I know would not consider involving themselves in Joe’s infidelity or running around loose. They'd leave that business for Joe and Sarah to work out and hope for the best.

    Lines 11 Who wants to brave those bronze beauties 12. Lying in the sun Hmmm? Most guys I know love to brave young bronze beauties. But I don't know any who FEAR them. Again a reference to fear and to beauties? What fear and what beauties? So ask yourself why he would fear lovey young women.

    Line 17 And they lay you down so fast This one is a tricky line and 'You' is the optimal term in the line FM. Who or what is ‘You’ referring to in this line? Maybe it is Joe or maybe me, you or any man or woman or everybody for that matter but likely they wear GL. And what is the meaning of "lay you down"? Is it copulation or sleeping or taking a rest or might it be Sarah's bad news about her guy that is afraid to cut the cake? Now the cake needs meaning for me. What the hell is the symbolic nature of ‘cutting the cake’ referring to here? FM it is not good for anyone to cut the cake. It is highly risky FM.

    Lines 18 19 and 20 Till you look straight up and say 19. Oh lord 20. Am I really here at last At last, why? wooo! These words have no abstract meaning FM but directly refer to the Lord and where he is and what is more ‘at last with his Lord’, meaning finally.

    Line 21. Who wants to play those eights and aces This the tipping point that completed my version. Where else in your life have you heard the terms aces and eights together like that? If nothing comes to mind, Google ‘Eight and aces’ and you'll learn a true history story will surface first. These two terms together in this order have a meaning all their own. That phase is commonly known as “The dead man’s hand”

    Lines 22, 23 and 24 Who wants a raise 23. Who needs a stake 24. Who wants to take that long shot gamble Who do you know in the song that might want a stake and gamble? Is he referring directly to a card game as in the our history lesson? Or is it an a metaphor an analogy to our history lesson? And who in our story needs to make his stake, rise up and take a long shot gamble?

    Line 25 And head out to Fire Lake It is Joe who heads out to Fire Lake; no one else. Where is Fire Lake? Or what is Fire Lake? It makes me think we have an analogy here; symbolism FM. That analogy FM is a colloquial expression for Michigan riders in gypsy leather and not a specific lake in Michigan as some may say about Centralia, PA where the town has been on fire since 1962. People talk about lakes of fire in that town. Not for me is it a lake on fire.

    Last line. Who's gonna do it Who is going to do what? One guess guys who and what are we talking about here?

    My version

    Sarah did NOT go with the group on their trip to maybe nowhere special. Joe is frisky to shake his fear and Fire Lake is a big fear for Joe. Nobody wants to break this news that Joe went off to Fire Lake; not any other in gypsy leathers. FM that is certainty for my version
    And ‘Oh Lord am I really here’ is no metaphor. It is his Joe’s mortality from a gambling biker’s accident where he took a risk and met his fate and young bronze beauties lying in the Sun. He wants to know from his Lord f he is really here with Him. So what might fire lake mean? A personal short story: I never rode cycles because unlike Joe. I am a maverick with little fear especially speed and heights and other thrills. However when I was 12 and again at 14 years of age, a very impressionable age, two close relatives were seriously injured from cycle accidents. One's accident created a small lake of gas that sparks ignited from the accident. Good for me but bad for my relatives. I'm would likely be enjoying bronze bodies prematurely. So in my story Joe’s long shot gamble was met with a gasoline fire that kill him and he met his Lord and asked Am I really here at last.

    I do karaoke from time to time and Fire Lake is one of my favorites of Seger’s to cover.
  • Mike from San Carlos, CaOne of my top five Seger songs. I find it ironic Seger wrote a song about "taking risks," when he later admitted taking a risk with this song's new sound and placing as the first song on the Against the Wind album. I agree with Terry about the mid-life crisis, but not with "gypsy leathers," comment. Gypsy leathers means the rider wears no patches and has no claim to a club. And "afraid to cut the cake" means he stayed away from marriage.
  • Terry from Sydney, AustraliaI'm pretty sure this song is about a guy going thru a mid life crisis. Uncle Joe is afraid to cut the cake, runs off from his wife to fire lake on some chrome 3 wheeler, (trike) joins a biker group (wears gypsy leathers). cool song anyway, as is all of Seger's work.
  • Lisa from Eveleth, MnI love this song, loved it for twenty years, and its awesome that the eagles are singing since I love them too!
see more comments

Adam Young of Owl CitySongwriter Interviews

Is Owl City on a quest for another hit like "Fireflies?" Adam answers that question and explains the influences behind many others.

Jonathan Cain of JourneySongwriter Interviews

Cain talks about the divine inspirations for "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Faithfully."

Director Wes Edwards ("Drunk on a Plane")Song Writing

Wes Edwards takes us behind the scenes of videos he shot for Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley and Chase Bryant. The train was real - the airplane was not.

Amanda PalmerSongwriter Interviews

Call us crazy, but we like it when an artist comes around who doesn't mesh with the status quo.

Director Mark Pellington ("Jeremy," "Best Of You")Song Writing

Director Mark Pellington on Pearl Jam's "Jeremy," and music videos he made for U2, Jon Bon Jovi and Imagine Dragons.

Rosanne CashSongwriter Interviews

Rosanne talks about the journey that inspired her songs on her album The River & the Thread, including a stop at the Tallahatchie Bridge.