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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