(You Will) Set the World On Fire

Album: The Next Day (2013)
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Songfacts®:

  • This song about ambition and fame finds Bowie singing about Bob Dylan and his fellow Greenwich Villagers David Van Ronk and Phil Ochs, during the '60s folk boom. The song is a tribute to the power and influence of the early '60s folk scene in the English Rock icon's adopted home city.
  • Bowie's longtime guitar sidekick Earl Slick plays on this track. Slick recalled to Ultimate Classic Rock how his pal called him out of the blue in the summer of 2012 and "said, 'I'm ready to go back in. What are you doing? Are you around? Are you touring?'" Once Slick said he was available they, "started banging dates around, and he was already recording - and I went in and did all my stuff in July."

    Bowie put a gagging order over the whole project and Slick told Ultimate Classic Rock how difficult it was trying to keep the Thin White Duke's plans secret for months. "Do you have any idea how many interviews I've done since May, with this under my belt, which I couldn't say anything about? It was horrible!" he said.

    "I had the cover for the Christmas issue of Guitar Player magazine. That was the hardest one - it's a double issue and it stays on the stands longer, and they did a 14-page spread on me, and I'm thinking, 'Christ, I can't even say anything.' Anyway, he appreciated that - and I got a nice thank you for keeping my big mouth shut."

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