Burning

Album: Cool It Down (2022)
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Songfacts®:

  • Back in the late 1990s when Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O was 19, she lived in an East Village apartment. One evening, her roommate invited her out for an impromptu drink across the street. Karen O forgot she'd left a votive candle burning on a plastic yaffa block, which in her absence set fire to her room. She returned 90 minutes later to discover there'd been a massive blaze. The firefighters had extinguished the fire, but many of her possessions were lost in the flames.

    Here, Karen O reflects on the fire that nearly destroyed her East Village apartment. "There's a whole lot of burning going on lately, around us, inside us," she told Apple Music. "This song felt like a safe space to combust. Buzzsaw guitars drilling your brain, it was like, scream this s--t out, instead of into your pillow."
  • While Karen O's camera, laptop, and other electrics were destroyed, other items such as the singer's sketchbooks, a favorite sweater with hearts across the chest, and photographs remained intact. "I had photos of my parents in their youth where the fire burnt around the two of them," she said, "as if there was some intangible force field protecting them, many photos like that, mysteriously leaving the beloved subjects untouched."

    O added, "If the world is on fire I hope the most beloved stay protected and that we do all we can to protect what we cherish most in this life. Burning is a song about that feeling, smoke signals for the soul. Begging to cool it down, just doing it the best we know how."
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs released "Burning" as the second single from Cool It Off, the New York group's first album in nine years.
  • Karen O wrote the song with her Yeah Yeah Yeahs bandmates, drummer Brian Chase and multi-instrumentalist Nick Zinner. Bob Gaudio and Peggy Farina also receive credits because it is driven by a vigorous piano loop inspired by their Four Seasons song "Beggin'." Moreover, the lyric, "Lay your red hand on me, baby," nods to the "put your lovin' hand out, baby" opening line that Frankie Valli sings on "Beggin'."
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs performed "Burning" live for the first time at the Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles on May 30, 2022.

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