Fire Lake, Michigan

Fire Lake by Bob Seger

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Who wants to take
That long shot gamble
And head out to Fire Lake
Bob Seger c 1977
This is not Fire Lake, but it is a lake on fire
Some people reckon a play is really good when you leave the theatre with nobody knowing exactly what it was about. If that’s true, then maybe that’s why the song “Fire Lake” was such a hit. You can ask a whole bunch of music lovers about the lyrics and get a whole bunch of meanings.

To some ‘bronze beauties’ are hot chicks, while others reckon they’re Nordic maidens with Viking boyfriends. Still others might say they symbolize the sirens in Homer’s Odyssey, “warbling to death” all men who come too close. Maybe that’s what happened to Uncle Joe. Only Bob knows.

According to biker vernacular, “gypsy leathers” are a description for someone not associated with a bike club, while “8s and Aces” is the notorious “Dead Man’s Hand” held by Wild Bill Hickok when he was shot in the back of his head in Saloon #10 in Deadwood, South Dakota, in 1876.

There’s a theory based on Fire Lake standing in for the biblical Lake of Fire where “un-saved” Christians dwell for all eternity, and Uncle Joe being sent there for his indiscretions in not ever marrying poor Aunt Sarah (he was the one afraid to cut the cake), thereby living in sin. But as for the actual physical lake, there are plenty of suggestions for that, as well, including Silver Lake, which is near Hell in Michigan. True story. But a quick search on Google Maps turned up a Fire Lake on the west side of Lake Michigan, sandwiched comfortably between the Ottawa National and Crystal Falls State Forests. And since Seger hails from Michigan, we’ll go with that.

For every opinion-bearing lyric connoisseur, our advice is to not overthink things so much. Seger himself has been quoted as saying the song’s just about risk-taking and consequences. “About risking love,” he said, “chucking it all and just heading off with a bunch of wild people.”

The song was almost a non-event. Seger wanted it for an album he was recording in 1975, but “Fire Lake” missed the cut and didn’t make it until 1980. So when time came for song selection on Against the Wind, Seger says, "We decided to come with 'Fire Lake' as the first single, because it was totally and unequivocally unlike anything we'd ever done before. The lyric is very ... different ... and very kind of unique.” The album is Seger’s only album to hit #1 on the Billboard chart, while this song reached #6.

They say the quality of a musician can be measured by the quality of his session support staff. Three of the backing vocalists on “Fire Lake” were members of the hugely famous Eagles band. Nothing but the best for Bob.

Seger was born in 1945 and is a living example of the saying that old rockers don’t die, they just keep on rockin’. One of his most enduring hits is “Old Time Rock ‘n Roll,” and it sums up his style. He has that raspy, shouting style of singing, having been influenced by such greats as Little Richard and the King. “Old Time Rock ‘n Roll” has been voted the second most played jukebox single. Ever. In 2004 Bob Seger was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Mind you, he did change bands as often as some rockers change their shorts, but some of his groups stayed together for many years. And any rocker who stays the course runs the danger of being overtaken by new trends. Grunge and alternative rock meant that, for some, the “‘old” style of Seger’s rock became old hat. But not for the man himself. And despite taking up sailing, and raising his family, Seger eventually got back into touring and did really well. So well, in fact, that on May 28, 2011, the governor of Michigan declared the day to be Bob Seger Day, due to his huge and continuing success with music around the world.
~ Cenarth Fox Fire Lake Songfacts
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Comments: 7

  • Mike Mencke from IdahoGreat area that Hell. We rode through Hell and back!!!
  • Bob Williamson from Walled Lake, MichiganCertainly one of Ann Arbor Bob's finer songs.
  • Frank from MichiganJust so you all know, Silver Lake was, and still is, a biker destination for folks from Southeast Michigan. Only a few miles from Hell, it was a good place to go after a few beers in the Hell Hole Bar, which had a different name back in the 70s. There is a really nice beach on the west side of the lake. A good place to try to pick up some of those "Bronzed beauties". When I was younger, I belonged to a club, but we drifted apart. One guy was in a really bad accident and quit riding, I went to Nam, and the others moved away. Since then I've worn Gypsy leathers. When I heard that Bob said that Silver Lake was in fact "Fire Lake", I thought to myself, "That makes sense" I was just out there last week with my son, who wanted to "Go to Hell", yes, that's a thing. Town full of bikes, just like always.
  • Joe From Phoenix, Arizona Loved the song from day one, I was told Gypsy leathers referred to the Gypsy MC that dates back to the 30's depression era Tennessee and was international by the 70's. Leathers predated their cut off Levi vests with the pickle patch...Chrome three Wheeler "mistake " was explained by an old biker guy who nearly died in the 70mph crash when his Harley chromed frame broke, which he claimed was an issue with stress fractures after plating...going to Fire Lake MI in spring.
  • Rachel from Mulhurst Bay , Alberta Canada Every time we went camping and partying.firelake was our song, but love all his songs
  • Amanda from Man, West VirginiaWOW.. What memories from the 80's ... Special song I will always keep in my heart....and never forget Thank You
  • John Poole from Toowoomba Australiamy favourite seger song,was wrapt to know what lyrics meant,sounds like fire lake is in some awsome countryside,would love to vsit one day !
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