Blue Öyster Cult – Burnin For You

It is not the more cowbell song but I like it. I never owned a Blue Oyster Cult album in my life and probably never will but I liked a couple of their popular songs. The song peaked at #40 in the Billboard 100 in 1981. This would be their last Top 40 hit but it was a #1 hit on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart.

Lead guitarist Don “Buck Dharma” Roeser wrote this with Richard Meltzer, a rock writer who often contributed lyrics to the band. Dharma initially planned to release this song on his solo album, Flat Out, but was later convinced to include it on Blue Öyster Cult’s Fire Of Unknown Origin.” Dharma sang lead, as he did on many of BÖC’s songs.

Band manager Sandy Pearlman, claimed that the name came to him when he saw Blue Point oysters on a menu.

From Songfacts

When Richard Meltzer wrote the lyrics, he titled the song “Burn Out The Night,” a reference to an evening of rock and roll. Blue Öyster Cult had a “band house” where their band members and associates (including their manager, Sandy Pearlman would bring in song ideas and lyrics. 

Joe Bouchard, who was their bass player at the time, told the metal magazine Chips & Beer that he and Buck Dharma came across Meltzer’s lyrics at the same time, and each wrote their own song around it. Dharma’s version, with the title changed to “Burnin’ For You,” was the one that got recorded.

Along with Black Sabbath, Blue Öyster Cult was one of the first heavy metal bands. They issued their first album in 1972 and grew a modest following before scoring a hit with “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” (also written by Buck Dharma) from their 1976 album Agents of Fortune, which hit #12 and became embedded on rock playlists.

In the book MTV Ruled the World – The Early Years of Music Video, frontman Eric Bloom tells the story of the “Burnin’ For You” video: “We went out to California, and our management found a video company, and we did two videos in 24 hours – ‘Burnin’ For You’ and ‘Joan Crawford.’ MTV wouldn’t show the ‘Joan Crawford’ video, because there was something about it that was too racy for them. But ‘Burnin’ For You’ got a ton of airplay on MTV in 1981 and 1982.”

Bloom continues: “We made it in the storm drains of LA. If anyone has seen the movie about giant ants, called Them!, with James Whitmore, it was filmed in the same place.” Later he adds: “We thought the car on fire was very Hollywood, very cool. They had to have a Hollywood film/pyro guy there, who was licensed to burn s–t up. He had propane tanks, and he had to have a hunk of car to burn.”

These videos were directed by Richard Casey, who directed the 1985 movie Horror House on Highway Five.

Burnin For You

Home in the valley
Home in the city
Home isn’t pretty
Ain’t no home for me

Home in the darkness
Home on the highway
Home isn’t my way
Home will never be

Burn out the day
Burn out the night
I can’t see no reason to put up a fight
I’m living for giving the devil his due

And I’m burning, I’m burning, I’m burning for you
I’m burning, I’m burning, I’m burning for you

Time is the essence
Time is the season
Time ain’t no reason
Got no time to slow

Time everlasting
Time to play b-sides
Time ain’t on my side
Time I’ll never know

Burn out the day
Burn out the night
I’m not the one to tell you what’s wrong or what’s right
I’ve seen signs of what (freezing their eyes) went through

Well I’m burning, I’m burning, I’m burning for you
I’m burning, I’m burning, I’m burning for you

Burn out the day
Burn out the night
I can’t see no reason to put up a fight
I’m living for giving the devil his due

And I’m burning, I’m burning, I’m burning for you
I’m burning, I’m burning, I’m burning for you