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John Parr Rewrites 'St. Elmo's Fire' As Valentine To Tebow


We end this hour with a warning. Football fans, if you're tired of hearing about Denver Broncos' quarterback Tim Tebow, about his multiple miraculous come-from-behind victories, his greatness, his Christian faith, we're sorry because this is happening.


JOHN PARR: (Singing) I can see a new horizon underneath the blazing sky. I'll be where the eagle's flying higher and higher. Going to be a man in motion. All I need is my Bronco team. Take me where the future's lying, Tim Tebow's fire.

BLOCK: That's right, "Tim Tebow's Fire." The singer is John Parr, who wrote and recorded the original song, "St. Elmo's Fire." It was a huge hit back in 1985 and the theme to the Brat Pack movie of the same name. So why in the world would Parr dust off his pop gem and turn it into a valentine to pro football's flavor of the season? Well, John Parr joins me now from his home in northern England to explain. John, Tim Tebow wasn't even born when this song came out in 1985. Why now? Why has "St. Elmo's Fire" become "Tim Tebow's Fire"?

PARR: It's a strange set of circumstances, Melissa. Really, what happened was I've been living in America for the last seven months, doing shows for the American military, for the troops and their family. And they asked me if - and so I did - I want to pitch a song for "Monday Night Football." So I wrote a song for the vacant slot for that, went up to ESPN to pitch the song. And they said to me: Have you got your guitar? Would you go on set and play "St. Elmo's Fire"? Which I did.

And just as they were going to roll the cameras, they said: You couldn't call it "Tim Tebow's Fire," could you? So I did it just for fun way back then. But then, as I've, you know, seen Tim play and seen the man he is, I thought maybe he deserves better than this because, obviously, that song is written about another athlete. It was written about Rick Hansen, the wheelchair athlete.

BLOCK: Yeah. Let's talk about that. So you originally wrote it for a Canadian Paralympian, right?

PARR: Yes. What happened was David Foster and I were writing the theme song for "St. Elmo's Fire," the movie, and I really just couldn't get inspired, you know, to write the lyrics. And David showed me a little five-minute TV segment. The Rick was just setting out on the Man in Motion tour for Vancouver. He had no money. And I thought we've got to lend this guy a hand. So I made the lyrics seemed like the wheels with Demi Moore's jeep, but really, it's Rick. And likewise, I saw it with Tim.

You know, it's the same thing. It's about one man kind of against the world. I mean, the last three weeks, I've seen Tim, you know, be the greatest thing on the planet. Last week, nobody wanted to know. And then Saturday, everything changed, and he's the largest thing again. Life is like that, isn't it?

BLOCK: You know, it's interesting when you look at the lyrics, the references that you dropped in - let's see - let's figure out a couple here. Instead of a few miles down the road from the original, now it's just four downs to go.

PARR: Yeah.

BLOCK: Underneath the blazing sky, that was the original. Now, it's blazing on the Mile High, Mile High Stadium.

PARR: Yeah, blazing on Mile High. I mean, you know, I didn't want to pull the whole song apart. I just thought so much of it fits it, you know? And because it was an every man lyric or an every woman lyric, you know, we've all got a dream. We're all trying to achieve something in our own way.

BLOCK: Now, John, coming from where you're coming from as an Englishman, are you really an American football fan?

PARR: I wasn't. I mean, we Brits don't get NFL and NASCAR, but living in America these past seven months, I've really, really enjoyed getting into it. And I can see - really see the attraction.

BLOCK: Are you a fan of Tim Tebow and the Broncos?

PARR: I'm a fan, generally, of him. I mean, it's funny. I've not seen many Broncos games. I'm definitely a Tim Tebow fan because of two things. I think he's a complete maverick, and he believes in something. I mean, everybody doesn't share his religious belief, but I think we live in a world where people have lost faith in anything. And I just like it that here is a man that believes in something, his teammates believe in him. And it just inspired me.

BLOCK: John Parr, the songwriter behind "St. Elmo's Fire," now "Tim Tebow's Fire." John, thanks so much.

PARR: Thank you so much, Melissa.


PARR: (Singing) Growing up. Got to keep your eyes on the ball. Make it fly. Give it everything, give your all. But maybe sometimes if you feel the pain, you'll find you're all alone...


You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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