St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)

St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)

performed by John Parr
written by David Foster and John Parr
released on June 23, 1985

Growin’ up, you don’t see the writing on the wall
Passin’ by, movin’ straight ahead, you knew it all
But maybe sometime if you feel the pain
You’ll find you’re all alone, everything has changed

Play the game, you know you can’t quit until it’s won
Soldier on, only you can do what must be done
You know in some way you’re a lot like me
You’re just a prisoner and you’re tryin’ to break free

I can see a new horizon underneath the blazin’ sky
I’ll be where the eagle’s flying higher and higher
Gonna be your man in motion, all I need is a pair of wheels
Take me where my future’s lyin’, St. Elmo’s fire

Burning up, don’t know just how far that I can go
(Just how far I go)
Soon be home, only just a few miles down the road
I can make it, I know, I can
You broke the boy in me but you won’t break the man

I can see a new horizon underneath the blazin’ sky
I’ll be where the eagle’s flying higher and higher
Gonna be your man in motion, all I need is a pair of wheels
Take me where my future’s lyin’, St. Elmo’s fire

I can climb the highest mountain, cross the wildest sea
I can feel St. Elmo’s fire burnin’ in me, burnin’ in me

Just once in his life a man has his time
And my time is now, I’m coming alive

I can hear the music playin’, I can see the banners fly
Feel like a man again, I’ll hold my head high
Gonna be your man in motion, all I need is a pair of wheels
Take me where my future’s lyin’, St. Elmo’s fire

I can see a new horizon underneath the blazin’ sky
I’ll be where the eagle’s flying higher and higher
Gonna be your man in motion, all I need is a pair of wheels
Take me where my future’s lyin’, St. Elmo’s fire
I can climb the highest mountain, cross the wildest sea
I can feel St. Elmo’s fire burnin’ in me
Burnin’, burnin’ in me, I can feel it burnin’
Ooh, burnin’ inside of me

_________________

The song is from the 1985 film, St. Elmo’s Fire. It was the first single from the film to be released and it hit #1 on the US Billboard Top 100, starting on September 7, 1985.

David Foster and John Parr were contracted to write a song for the film, however, Parr was struggling for inspiration. As a result, Foster showed Parr a news article about Canadian athlete Rick Hansen who was traveling the world in his wheelchair, at the time, to raise money for spinal cord injuries. Hansen’s charitable journey was called “The Man in Motion Tour” and the song ultimately paid tribute to the inspirational effort in its lyrics.

Photo via CBC

St. Elmo’s Fire, in addition to being an uplifting song about the triumph of the indomitable human spirit, is also a weather phenomenon.

From Wiki:

St. Elmo’s fire is a form of plasma. The electric field around the object in question causes ionization of the air molecules, producing a faint glow easily visible in low-light conditions. Conditions that can generate St. Elmo’s fire are present during thunderstorms, when high voltage differentials are present between clouds and the ground underneath. A local electric field of approximately 100 kV/m is required to begin a discharge in moist air. The magnitude of the electric field depends greatly on the geometry (shape and size) of the object. Sharp points lower the necessary voltage because electric fields are more concentrated in areas of high curvature, so discharges preferentially occur and are more intense at the ends of pointed objects.

The nitrogen and oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere cause St. Elmo’s fire to fluoresce with blue or violet light; this is similar to the mechanism that causes neon lights to glow, albeit at a different colour due to the different gas involved.

In 1751, Benjamin Franklin hypothesized that a pointed iron rod would light up at the tip during a lightning storm, similar in appearance to St. Elmo’s fire

I know what you’re asking… who was St. Elmo?

Apparently zazzle.com provided this image. Alas, this little red fellow is not the St. Elmo of which we are referring.

St. Elmo is/was also known as Erasmus of Formia.

Erasmus of Formia, also known as Saint Elmo, was a Christian saint and martyr, who died c. 303. He is venerated as the patron saint of sailors and abdominal pain. Erasmus or Elmo is also one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, saintly figures of Christian tradition who are venerated especially as intercessors.

Erasmus was Bishop of Formia, Italy. During the persecution against Christians under the emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian Hercules (284-305), he left his diocese and went to Mount Libanus, where he hid for seven years. However, an angel is said to have appeared to him, and counseled him to return to his city.

On the way, he encountered some soldiers who questioned him. Erasmus admitted that he was a Christian and they brought him to trial at Antioch before the emperor Diocletian. After suffering terrible tortures, he was bound with chains and thrown into prison, but an angel appeared and helped him escape.

He passed through Lycia, where he raised up the son of an illustrious citizen. This resulted in a number of baptisms, which drew the attention of the Western Roman Emperor Maximian who, according to Voragine, was “much worse than was Diocletian.” Maximian ordered his arrest and Erasmus continued to confess his faith. They forced him to go to a temple of the idol, but along Erasmus’s route all the idols fell and were destroyed, and from the temple there came fire which fell upon many of the pagans.

These actions angered the emperor, who had Erasmus enclosed in a barrel full of protruding spikes and rolled down a hill. An angel healed him from these wounds.

When he was recaptured, he was brought before the emperor and beaten and whipped, then coated with pitch and set alight (as Christians had been in Nero‘s games), and still he survived. Thrown into prison with the intention of letting him die of starvation, Erasmus managed to escape.

He was recaptured and tortured in the Roman province of Illyricum, after boldly preaching and converting numerous pagans to Christianity. Finally, according to this version of his death, his abdomen was slit open and his intestines wound around a windlass. This version may have developed from interpreting an icon that showed him with a windlass, signifying his patronage of sailors.

The St. Elmo’s fire weather phenomenon is named after St. Elmo because St. Elmo is the patron saint of sailors. The phenomenon sometimes appeared on ships at sea during thunderstorms and was regarded by sailors with religious awe for its glowing ball of light, accounting for the name. Sailors might have considered St. Elmo’s fire as a good omen (as a sign of the presence of their patron saint)

I am sharing the official music video below. If you do a search on your own, though, you may stumble across Tim Tebow’s Fire, a John Parr remake of his hit song, honoring former Florida Gator and NFL player, Tim Tebow.

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