Song Explanation: “To Start A Fire”


This is the sixth of several blog posts explaining the songs we wrote on Engine of A Million Plots. The sixth song on the list is “To Build A Fire.” You can find the words to the song and Reese’s explanation below. Please leave your thoughts and questions in the comments. And don’t forget the original disclaimer of this series. If one of these songs means something completely different to you than what Reese says, that’s probably the better explanation. 

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To Build A Fire

My old friend.
Need only speak your name,
to summon a smile.
I knew you when,
we had so much more in common,
it’s been a while.
Winter was cold,
the autumn was dire.
Love has no meaning,
without desire.
If we’re gonna make it,
we’ve got to set ourselves on fire.

Something to believe in,
to only be inspired.
To torch it all to cinders,
to only build a fire.

My old friend.
We used to sharpen our blades on each other,
for the fight.
We used to plead,
with the flame to ever only
stay alight.
Our backs are breaking,
beneath the weight.
Some albatrosses
some Aces and Eights.
Our hearts are freezing,
beneath their tempered iron plates.

Explanation from Reese Roper:

Scott wrote this song as another template, and I found his lyrics to be so good that I fervently refused to destroy them. Except for the chorus, which I thoroughly mangled, and I added the second verse. My thought when he first sent it to me was that it was about his relationship with me. This may or may not be true, but I think it was- because I am a complete narcissist. So I took his beautiful song and made it be about me, and how I was lamenting some writer’s block I was having while penning the lyrics for this album. Do you hear that? Narcissism. Who says that they were “penning” some lyrics? I am a lump of crap, and I don’t deserve to have any friends. Why do you even like our band?

Anyhoo… Scott and I used to be the greatest of friends. And do you know what ruined it? Me pushing Jesus on him when he needed me to just be his friend. So that’s what this song is about. Me wanting to rekindle that friendship, and he wanting the same thing with whoever he was writing the song for. Probably this guy named Cliff.

* Bonus: What? More stuff about fire, and freezing, and cold? Also, there used to be these things called books. Have you ever heard of Jack London?


  1. I really didn’t like that story when I had to read it as a kid. Probably because I had to read it as a kid.

    I like the song though. Your thoughts on your relationship with Scott are interesting, and I wonder if he really was writing it about you or about someone else. Thanks for the explanations!

  2. This is the best thing that Five Iron does, I think — to compose the weights of grief and hope so they pull each other in constant tension/balance. I think all your really good songs do that. I love this song. It makes me cry. It’s about a lot of people I know.

  3. I really like this song.

  4. “Who says that they were “penning” some lyrics? I am a lump of crap, and I don’t deserve to have any friends. Why do you even like our band?”

    Reese, I can honestly say that it’s because of hilarious honesty like this. I can’t speak for everyone else, but I know I’ve been a fan of the band because every interaction I’ve had, be it through an album, an interview, a video, or even a live performance – I never get the feeling of a recording artist that is full of themselves or think they are awesome.

    You guys are dorks that have talent and a lot of fun, and it’s always awesome listening to your stuff, singing along, and even laughing at the humor in some of the songs.

    Just wanted to say welcome back and thanks for coming back. I missed you guys.

    • to me, people will alayws ask, whats in it for me?! email marketing is a great thing and can help you ten fold, with your is a few tips about email marketing: (not trying to take away from your great tips keith! haha)make it fungive give givebe helpfulthat’s it for me, hahagreat tips as alayws keith!

  5. So will Scott weigh in and let us know if this was about Reese or Cliff?

    My first thought when I looked at the lyrics and who wrote them was exactly this, actually… and it definitely mirrors a couple friendships of mine. So naturally since it hits close to home I love it.

    Also… where’s the list of all the song explanations? I’ve poked around but it seems like they can only be found by those who already know where they are?

  6. Scratch that on the list… leave it to me NOT to look at the home page. It seems like the “News” archive isn’t capturing the most recent news though?

  7. I really do love you guys. You put so much meaning into everything you do. All of these explanations have really caused me to start listening to lyrics. Before, I would only listen to your music because it sounds awesome, but now I really listen to your lyrics as well. They hit home for me every time. I’m sad that I only discovered you this year. It was a shock to hear that you ever broke up. Stay awesome, Reese! Tenor sax is the best sax, Leanor. Just saying


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