The weeping fiddle intro sets the tone perfectly. The fourth and final single from George Strait’s second album Strait from the Heart, also his second number-one single, found him once again tackling the classic country theme of a memory that won’t go away… and nailing it.
In some aspects, “A Fire I Can’t Put Out” is thematically similar to George’s earlier hit “Fool Hearted Memory.” In this instance, however, the story is told from a first-person perspective rather than by a third-person narrator. The lyric uses fire as a metaphor for an inextinguishable memory of a love lost. But besides the poetic storytelling, what really makes this a great lyric is the way it taps into varying emotions. While the feeling of sadness is unmistakable, the lyric also touches on an underlying appreciation for having experienced such a meaningful relationship in the first place. It even suggests that his attachment to the memory is such that the memory sustains him, and gives him strength to continue on in his life.
Besides having chosen a killer country song in the first place, George delivers the lyric in a manner that hits on all the right emotions. An overly weepy, tear-stained delivery would have obliterated the more appreciative feelings hinted at in the subtext. But George’s understative delivery is a spot-on interpretation, effectively conveying the spectrum of emotions expressed in the lyrics.
George Strait had already had some epic winners with “Fool Hearted Memory” and “Amarillo by Morning,” and “A Fire I Can’t Put Out” was another fine single from a talented young artist who would go on to become a country music legend.
Written by Darryl Staedtler
Listen: A Fire I Can’t Put Out