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Thread: Fire Lake

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Fire Lake

    My generation (get off my lawn!) spent hours dissecting the meaning of Don McLean's The Day The Music Died. Having thoroughly analyzed the lyrics to that song, many have moved on to a new target: Fire Lake by Bob Seger.

    Who's gonna ride that chrome three wheeler
    Who's gonna make that first mistake
    Who wants to wear those gypsy leathers
    All the way to Fire Lake

    The meaning of the lyrics to Fire Lake seems impenetrable by many, but growing up in blue-collar Buffalo, I always got I get a Rust Belt blue-collar cottage country vibe from the song. When I was growing up in the 1970s, it seemed like every other auto plant or steel mill worker had a small cottage out in the boonies somewhere, many on a large pond (Silver Lake, Rushford Lake, Cuba Lake, etc), Chautauqua Lake, or Lake Erie. The white collar crowd vacationed in more exotic locations, while the blue collar Joes spent weekends at the lake.

    Who wants to break the news about Uncle Joe
    You remember Uncle Joe
    He was the one afraid to cut the cake
    Who wants to tell poor Aunt Sarah
    Joe's run off to Fire Lake

    Bob Seger is from Detroit. Michigan is known for having perhaps the strongest blue collar "cottage culture" in the Great Lakes region. The song may seem mysterious, but to my ears, it all goes back to weekends at the cottage on some Rust Belt lake.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  2. #2
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    By virtue of cultural geography I guess I'm a Bob Seger 'fan' in much the same way that Dan is 'Catholic', so naturally I have had much (over)exposure to Mr. Seger's works over the years.
    Bob Seger is an artist whose songs have largely focused on both the (personally) experiential and blue collar culture (e.g. Main Street, Turn the Page), I would have to agree that Fire Lake is almost certainly referring to factory rats cutting loose on the weekends out to their cottages on the lake, but the Biblical reference is no accident either. The sinful of course get cast into a lake of fire, and the afterlife reference dual meaning is made more clear when you consider the line "who wants to play those eights and aces" (dead man's hand). What would be a complete mistake, though, is to conclude that the song had anything to do with the singer making any moral judgements. Quite the opposite, I'm convinced Fire Lake in a nutshell says "we all cut loose and had some great times drinking, ridin' bikes, playing cards, and getting laid on the highway to Hell"
    Last edited by Maister; 15 Aug 2012 at 9:54 AM.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  3. #3
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    By virtue of cultural geography I guess I'm a Bob Seger 'fan' in much the same way that Dan is 'Catholic', so naturally I have had much (over)exposure to Mr. Seger's works over the years.
    Bob Seger is an artist whose songs have largely focused on both the (personally) experiential and blue collar culture (e.g. Main Street, Turn the Page), I would have to agree that Fire Lake is almost certainly referring to factory rats cutting loose on the weekends out to their cottages on the lake, but the Biblical reference is no accident either. The sinful of course get cast into a lake of fire, and the afterlife reference dual meaning is made more clear when you consider the line "who wants to play those eights and aces" (dead man's hand). What would be a complete mistake, though, is to conclude that the song had anything to do with the singer making any moral judgements. Quite the opposite, I'm convinced Fire Lake in a nutshell says "we all cut loose and had some great times drinking, ridin' bikes, playing cards, and getting laid on the highway to Hell"
    I agree. Seger has blue collar angst in his songs, but not moral judgements. Of course, my youth was spread across southern Michigan too.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

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    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    I don't think I've ever listened to a Bob Seger song and thought- "man those are some really deep lyrics!", but then again I've pretty much only heard his "hits" like "Nite Moves", "Turn the Page", and "Main Street". The songs I've heard are well-written enough, but there's a certain plodding, overly-nostalgic melancholy to them that I find incredibly boring. Maybe it's a generational thing, I dunno.

  5. #5
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    I don't think I've ever listened to a Bob Seger song and thought- "man those are some really deep lyrics!", but then again I've pretty much only heard his "hits" like "Nite Moves", "Turn the Page", and "Main Street". The songs I've heard are well-written enough, but there's a certain plodding, overly-nostalgic melancholy to them that I find incredibly boring. Maybe it's a generational thing, I dunno.
    Seger makes no bones about it. He's mawkishly sentimental, in a badass blue collar kinda way.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  6. #6
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    Whenever I hear "Against the Wind" I get this really stupid look on my face. Even when I was a little kid and it would come on the radio and my siblings would say "Look, he's going into the trance!"

    or.....maybe there is a stupid look on my face all the time and other people notice it when I hear "Against the Wind". Nah.
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

  7. #7
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Seger makes no bones about it. He's mawkishly sentimental, in a badass blue collar kinda way.
    C'mon, there's nothing badass about the guy. He's the poor man's Springsteen, is what he is

  8. #8
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ursus View post
    Whenever I hear "Against the Wind" I get this really stupid look on my face. Even when I was a little kid and it would come on the radio and my siblings would say "Look, he's going into the trance!"

    or.....maybe there is a stupid look on my face all the time and other people notice it when I hear "Against the Wind". Nah.
    You know, if you didn't hang your head out the car window with your mouth open and your tongue waving, people might not take notice.
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    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

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