Writer’s Block: When Arson Gets Glamorized: “Burning House” by Cam

burn

“Burning House” has been one of this summer’s left-of-center smash hits. The artist responsible? Her name is Cam, and you probably didn’t know you’ve been listening to her songs for years. She’s a new artist herself, but she’s an established songwriter based out of Nashville, having already scored album cuts from the likes of Maggie Rose, and even a little artist that you all might know: Miley Cyrus, anyone?

It’s no surprise that Cam eventually started seeing her own success as an established artist, but it was a surprise to see her achieve that breakthrough with such a hauntingly penned single. “Burning House” is an acoustically-driven ballad inspired by a dream. As per Tom Roland at Billboard, during her undergraduate years at University of California, Davis, Cam was in a tumultuous relationship, which ended poorly. (Hold your judgments, all you Mother Teresa’s.) A couple of years passed by, and she found out one night that she’d be going to the same party her ex was going to be at. The night before the party, according to Roland, she dreamt of her ex’s house catching fire, and that she had run into the flames in preparation to die with him.

LOVE ISN’T ALL THAT IT SEEMS

I DID YOU WRONG

I’LL STAY HERE WITH YOU

UNTIL THIS DREAM IS GONE

The idea of a burning house has managed to take on another meaning beyond its literal sense in the dream. In this burning house, she can rescue him, die with him, be with him; she can also fear from him. This concept became a metaphor, and I’m curious as to whether it was accidental or purposeful.

THE FLAMES ARE GETTING BIGGER NOW

IN THIS BURNING HOUSE.

I CAN HOLD ON TO YOU SOMEHOW

IN THIS BURNING HOUSE.

OH, AND I DON’T WANNA WAKE UP

IN THIS BURNING HOUSE.

She’s yearning to rescue her ex from that house ablaze, but wasn’t the relationship itself the equivalent of a burning house? It was “on-again, off-again,” according to the artist, like an uneasy pairing of people that only tore each other down. Like the house in the song, the relationship was at risk of destruction. In the dream, he was one burn away from a coffin; in reality, they were one action away from crumbling, akin to the frames of that house. But, again, the relationship was on-again, off-again. Of course she went into those flames to rescue him. Don’t we all think about going back to an ex? (Now that you’ve said “Ha! No. You’re a mess, Craig. Stop typing and quit your job,” think about it truthfully.) We’ve thought about it multiple times with all of our exes, but those relationships are our burning houses. They’re what took us down once before, and they can do it again. You can set fire to just about anything, unless you’re made of, like, rubber or something. (I didn’t do too hot in high school chemistry; I learned all that I know from Breaking Bad.)

I’VE BEEN SLEEPWALKING TOO CLOSE TO THE FIRE,

BUT IT’S THE ONLY PLACE THAT I CAN HOLD YOU TIGHT

IN THIS BURNING HOUSE.

For Cam, her dream was the perfect metaphor. The burning house was the only place she could hold him tight. Just like in reality, the only place we can be with an ex is in that burning house we frequented with them…unless you want to run into those flames again. But don’t do that. Coming soon: my “Dear Abby” column!

Cam’s dream inspired a landmark moment in 2015. “Burning House” has become such an incredible mainstream hit off of its lyrical purity, combined with the gentleness in its sound and her vocal performance. This isn’t something that happens often. That’s why it’s so important to recognize storytelling and lyricism as an art and as an asset, rather than an accessory.


 

A NOTE FROM THE REPORTER 

If you would like to be featured for the “Student Features” section of Writer’s Block, please email Craig at jaffecraig@gmail.com.


CRAIG JAFFE | KXSU Reporter

 

 

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