"(You Will) Set The World On Fire" as written by and David Bowie....
Midnight in the Village
Seeger lights the candles
From Bitter End to Gaslight
Baez leaves the stage
Ochs takes notes
When the black girl and guitar
Burn together hot in rage
You've got what it takes
You say too much

Oh you will set the world babe
You will set the world on fire
I can work the scene and
I can see the magazines
I can hear the nation
I can hear the nation cry
You will set the world babe
You will set the world on fire
You will set it on fire

Kennedy would kill for the lines that you’ve written
Van Ronk says to Bobby "she’s the next real thing"
Crouched in the half light, screaming like a banshee
You’re in the boat babe, we're in the water
You say too much

Oh you will set the world babe
You will set the world on fire
I can work the scene and
I can see the magazines
I can hear the nation
I can hear the nation cry
You will set the world babe
You will set the world on fire
You will set it on fire

Oh you will set the world babe
You will set the world on fire
Oh I can work the scene and
I can see the magazines
I can hear the nation
I can hear the nation cry
You will set the world babe
You will set the world on fire
You will set it on fire

Oh you will set the world babe
You will set the world on fire
I can work the scene and
I can see the magazines
Oh I can hear the nation
I can hear the nation cry
You will set the world babe
You will set the world on fire
You will set it on fire


Lyrics submitted by SongMeanings, edited by jtleathers

"(You Will) Set the World on Fire" as written by David Bowie

Lyrics © TINTORETTO MUSIC

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(You Will) Set The World On Fire song meanings
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3 Comments

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  • 0
    General CommentSeems to be about the birth of a star, a future celebrity being discovered. Anyone have any idea who "the black girl on guitar" could be? The chorus is the promise that the musician's manager/person in charge makes. "You will set the world on fire. I can work the scene- I can see the magazines!" The magazines would probably be plastered with the musician's face. Basically saying "I can make you famous, and you will be the next big thing."
    EnduringChillon April 27, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm convinced that Bowie is referencing the Greenwich village artists and the social movements they ignited to herald a new star - his daughter.

    Since the moment I first heard this song, I've been convinced that he is talking about her (or those like her/of her generation). Alexandra is the part of a new generation, that as her father, he is acutely aware of how she is growing up with all the advantages of the all the social movements that came before her (You've got what it takes, You say too much -- sounds just like a father). She will be beyond issues of race, sexuality, etc., and that means she can focus on new movements and propel us even farther forward. (You will set the world babe, You will set the world on fire)

    To me, this song is about the energizing excitement of seeing the potential in someone, and being game to help them achieve their dreams (I can work the scene babe, I can see the magazines).
    mori3xon May 22, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLike the idea that it's about his daughter, or his wishes for / advice to her.... 12 at the time of this album's release.... if there is a specific 'in story' incarnation of the black girl with the guitar, who was inspiring and singing in the Greenwich Village (about where Bowie lives now) of the early 60s, then that would have to be Odetta.
    rustybucketon May 30, 2014   Link

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