Driftin' upward
Gently lifting
Lazy on the wind

Rollin' over
Turnin' slowly
Beginning and the end

Fire is bright
Fire is clean
Never so alive

Smoke is freedom
Flame is mercy
I am free tonight

And I burn
I burn

Stoke the embers
Cleanse the spirit
A prayer in every spark

Feel the lick of
Bad religion
The finish and the start

In the beginning
We were smarter
And the flame was heaven-sent

Through the ages
We got stupid
Now we must repent

And I burn
I burn

Sift the ashes
For reminders
Stony things remain

Tooth and bone
I have left these things

Because fire is bright
Fire is clean
Efficient and divine

Tooth and bone
Charms and dolls
I am free tonight

I'm on
The air
You breathe

I'm on
The air
You Breathe

I'm on
The air
You breathe

I burn
I burn
I burn

Lyrics submitted by citizenx

I Burn Lyrics as written by Todd Lewis

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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I Burn song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentI disagree with pretty much everyone on the specifics. In my opinion, it's definitely about spirituality, which makes other appearances on the album theme-wise (Backslider comes to mind first).

    I personally think it's about how he felt controlled and enslaved by religion, but when he left the church and spiraled into a life of "sin" he began to burn.

    So now he's torn between living a life of selfish desires while dissolving, or returning to the chains of the church. Ultimately, the song is without resolution as he just continues to burn in indifference, which is how the song begins as well.

    ANOTHER way to interpret it is flat-out rebellion from the church. "Tooth and bone, unimpressive, I have left these things"; that line argues that point the most. He feels simultaneously cleansed by the freedom of religious bondage but dirty because of what's been engraved, thus the "burning" being the adjective used to describe the conflict and/or transition.
    CovinSon June 12, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI always thought it was about being cremated. "I'm on the air you breath!!" Meaning as he is burning and his body is becoming ashes and the soul has left the body he rises in the air with the smoke. That's what I think about when I hear the song.
    corkeyon November 03, 2017   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is about death of one's self. Dealing with the sins you have committed and knowing what's coming next. Cremation is also an excellent explanation, with all things said above still holding true.
    Guess what I already have asked to be played during my cremation? Its going to be beautiful, unfortunately long after the song has died. Beautiful all the same.
    ChrisLC16on December 11, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThough I know I will immediately think of everything I did not include in this post, just wanted to take a stab at it and maybe add more later.

    The religious vs nature imagery is stunning and when combined with the melody, really evoke several different ways this song can be interpreted. Definitely there is a Native American allusion as well as Christian connotation; both initially intended to describe the same thing, yet one being completely annihilated by the other. The parallels are chilling!

    "Driftin' upward
    Gently lifting
    Lazy on the wind"

    - While we are uncertain of what he inferrs, the idea could be that a spirit/soul has left a body and drifts upward. Immediately this implies the christian faith in that when a person dies, either their body releases their spirit to heaven, or that the body waits in a grave to be "caught up" in the rapture. However, lazy on the wind suggests that the spirit is aimless (lazy upon the wind, left to drift) and encourages the listener to open our minds to what the "spirit" or "soul" actually is...is there a purpose, or is it nature?

    "Rollin' over
    Turnin' slowly
    Beginning and the end"

    - This reminds me of the phrase, "turning in your grave" as if something so atrocious occured that your dead body would be aroused to move in deaths eternal slumber. In the south, this is also a phrase that is used to invoke guilt..."if Jesus [or, insert other] saw you do that, he would turn in his grave." Anywho, the impact is the same. We still aren't certain of what he is referring to. Most significant and what packs the punch is "beginning and the end." Love it! Is he saying that death is the beginning, or is it the end? Rolling over in your grave is just as imaginary as your spirit leaving your body to travel adrift on the wind. It also is relevant to the two different christian/jewish views about death (or more the christian misconception of the bible) where the spirit immediately leaves the body after death to walk the streets of gold, or sort of rots until the return of god (which in chrisianity is the coming of christ)(if I am correct, not sure)). Anywho, there is no mention of the spirit leaving the body to be in heaven in the bible...well, at least not how the church paints it to be. Heaven is rarely mentioned, yet it seems like the one and only thing to strive for. [This is a tangent, pardon me] Back on track...what I generally get from this is that the beginning and the end are one in the same. [chills]

    "Fire is bright
    Fire is clean
    Never so alive"

    - Here is the first time we get the drift of what he is trying to convey by the "spirit" yet introduces soo much more! While fire is thought to be a cleansing of the earth (agriculturally) it also implies the christian idea of hell. Fire also produces smoke which drifts upward, turning and rolling slowly in the wind. I will refrain from going too much in depth about how this could signify the beginning and end of particulate matter because the metaphor is delicious and really makes you think! Fire also is the beginning of culture and society and could very well be the end through nature or man; cleansing the earth; understanding nature and using it to our advantage could utimately become the end. "Never felt so alive" geez, this also could be interpreted so many different ways that my fingers can't keep up with my brian so I will have to stick with the religious element and how fire (burning in hell) is also an earthly renewal; it's within the remenants of life (ash) through death that life is able to regrow.

    "Smoke is freedom
    Flame is mercy
    I am free tonight"

    - What we were uncertain about, he confirms...smoke...and how when matter is reduced, the beauty is in the transformation. Hm. Wonder if this could be why fire is so deeply ingrained into our being that staring at the flame is hypnotizing? It's a rudamentary understanding of how nature works and is a feeling that is primordial, I feel. "I am free tonight" suggests that he is in the process of being reduced to his fundamentals to release his inner-being (ugh, new age crapness) or spirit, or soul, but this is such a powerful feeling and is spiritual! The closest to feeling nature, I think, and is the most difficult to describe! I'll spare the religious examples because, well, I just love this verse!

    "And I burn,
    I burn"

    - He invites reduction and to be stripped of what society or religion has placed on him and burns. To burn is also equivalent to become ravished by the quest to know, to learn, to discover; passionate and alive! If this means living beyond societal or religious restrctions, he gladly invites it for he will be reborn; regrowth.

    "Stoke the embers
    Cleanse the spirit
    A prayer in every spark"

    - The Native American thing really does play out in this verse and nearly invokes a chant or sacrifical element. To "stoke the embers" only intensifies the rage of fire. While christianity (or religion) suggests that to tempt the spirit is like stoking the flame, he suggests it is a cleansing rite; a prayer...not to be cleansed of sin, but to learn, expand, grow from being reduced to ashes...here on earth!

    "Feel the lick of
    Bad religion
    The finish and the start"

    - The "lick" could mean several things. Getting a "lick" from something done wrong is punishment. The lick of flame also alludes to being burned at the stake, but a salt lick is also a source of nutrients (for horses, or something). The major theme though is that how it is the revelation of understanding of what religion was meant to describ, in the most primitive sense. This understanding of the world without words; a feeling being melded into something divine; a metaphor to describe what we are born knowing...fire...yet we somehow associate it with death and damnation.

    "In the beginning
    We were smarter
    And the flame was heaven-sent"

    - This supports what the above suggests, that the flame being completely natural and logical is heaven-sent; a divergent terminology, yet describing the same thing. In the beginning, we understood in our core...nature. Though adapting to fire being a neccesity, we could not understand that it was our intellect that allowed us to even consider to "stoke the flame." We instinctually knew, yet it seemed so far beyond us which it is! We are just a smudge of smoke in time. This feeling of being so insignificant and small might be what we feel when we feel god; something beyond us.

    "Through the ages,
    We got stupid,
    Now we must repent"

    - [chills] Cannot say much else! Must we repent for our understanding?

    "Sift the ashes,
    For reminders,
    Stoney things remain"

    - Traveling back in time by unearthen cover of ash (or dust...earth) we find the stoney tools and charred remnants of our ancestory.

    "Tooth and bone,
    I have left these things"

    - When we are gone, in a thousand or even 60,000 years all that will be left of us are tooth and bone. All of our world will be reduced not only to rubble, but to dust and our own culture; our own society, will be rendered "unimpressive." This is still such a humbling experience...to understand that in the grander scheme of things (which are unintentional; only natrual) we are insignificant and small...ahhhh...

    "Because fire is bright,
    Fire is clean,
    Efficeint and divine"

    - Despite how efficient we see ourselves as some shining bright light among the world, fire is much more efficient because it is much more powerful than ourselves, thus divine and could totally erase our existance.

    "Tooth and bones,
    Charms and dolls,
    I am free tonight"

    - He needs no token nor sacrificial symbolic charm to free him of his earthly bounds because he now has touched the divine, or has become "one with nature!" He is free! I feel it!

    "I'm on the air,
    The air you breathe,
    And I burn"

    - Well...
    driftingdreameron June 14, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti wanna be burned by fire. fire is nice.
    blueglitz27on September 14, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song kind of reminds me of Fahrenheit 481, just some of the language used
    Locuston October 16, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentjust general sinning, good and bad stuff. It's almost as if he is being barbequed, "rolling over, turning slowly" like rotisserie style or something.
    scottpeltzon March 15, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this song is about Sin.

    "In the beginning we were smarter."

    talking about Adam and Eve

    "Through the ages, we got stupid"

    Perhaps this song is talking about it pentence and attonement of a act he made. After he did his pentence, he feels so clean. He feels free.
    Guffawingcoyoteon April 20, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTooth, bone, charms dolls, FIRE! Sounds like voodoo.
    JumpyJackon December 31, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOk, well i posted on a bunch of the other songs on this cd about what they mean and i think they are all one big storyline... This final song is where the guy kills himself and the girl he kidnapped.

    Everyone so far has explained how he is burning himself to have some sort of crazy religious death, but theres a few things i also think about this part... when he says "the beginning and the end" its referring to how in the water it was the beginning of his "life" and how his death in the fire is ending the same way.

    NOW... the girl is clearly also killed here.. because he is talking to her the whole time. At the end of the song: "I burn the air you breathe"... shes buried underground and he burns away all her oxygen. One reason that I put this together is that on the back of the album cover it shows some kind of dial (could show oxygen level in a coffin of some kind) with a reflection of a girls sleeping face barely there... really cool. (note: i dont have the pic in front of me, but thats what i remember...)

    This song is so cool and please post if anyone agrees with me or disagrees on this song or any of the others.
    windsofchangeon March 16, 2006   Link

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