Behind the Song
The song’s theme is simple. It’s about facing the hard stuff in life.
I wrote two or three drafts. The eariler drafts were longer, spending more time in the “first act” of the song, before I reach the chorus. In those earlier drafts, the song treads two more verses more on the “windy trail,” the narrator losing his way only to come back upon it again: “I trudged in prints I’d made before.”
I like the longer version for its storytelling: it deepens the weary drawn-out pain of the aimless wandering. Then, when the song reaches the chours, the audience more keenly feels the contrast of that chronic pain to the sharp sting of the fire’s burn.
Despite the better storytelling, it seemed to long. I feared it would grow monotonous (though that would in itself convey the idea of pointless, avoidant wandering — but not in a very pleasing way!)
So I’ve recorded the shorter version. On the whole I think it’s better, but I have my doubts.
I saw the fire square across my path just where my father said it would be and though the city shined just ahead I feared to face the towering heat So I quit the road for a winding trail I hoped to pass the fire by But the mud grew thick, I spiraled in a sprawl and still the fire billowed high I will step into the fire I will face the waiting flames I will follow my desire and be born anew in the pain With one long leap, I cleared the fetid ditch I faced the daunting scarlet rays The fire roared, hissing, spitting, seething, waiting and I plunged deep into its blaze Like a river, the flames poured upon me they scorched my cloak to ash I cried out in my agony my tears vanished in the blast I will step into the fire I will face the waiting flames I will follow my desire and be born anew in the pain 'Cause I'd rather burn than sink deeper in the mire so I will step into the fire At last I reached the fabled city I saw more wonders than I'd been told many labors sweet there awaited me studding towers tall with gold And though the fire lies far behind me I still feel its bracing burn though it may slumber like an amber ember someday the fire will return I will step into the fire I will face the waiting flames I will follow my desire and be born anew in the pain 'Cause I'd rather burn than sink deeper in the mire so I will step into the fire